UN urges release of detained personnel in Yemen — Global Issues


The staff are being held incommunicado by Yemen’s de facto authorities, who control the capital and large parts of the war-torn country, formally known as Ansar Allah.

The group, better known as the Houthis, has been fighting a coalition of pro-government forces for overall power in Yemen since 2015.

We are still denied access to them“, Mr Laurence said. “We also remain particularly concerned about the situation of two other UN staff who have been in prolonged detention, one since November 2021 and the other since August 2023,” he told reporters in Geneva.

He stressed that the UN “emphatically” rejects the shocking and false accusations made publicly against the detained staff members.

The OHCHR spokesperson called on states and other parties with influence over the Houthis to assist in the safe and rapid release of all detainees.

Respect for human rights

“It is crucial that the de facto authorities ensure that detainees are treated with full respect for their human rights and that they have access to their families and legal representatives,” Mr Laurence said, expressing concern about the conditions in which they are being held.

He added that further attacks on human rights and humanitarian workers in Yemen must stop immediately.

The 13 UN workers were arrested in June.Since 2021 and 2023, four more UN staff have been detained and held incommunicado by the de facto authorities, without access to their families or their respective organizations and agencies.

Parties involved

Like the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (OSESGIE)
In June, it was reported that the four staff members held prior to the latest arrests worked for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Agency, UNESCOand the UN Human Rights Office, OHCHR.

The 13 detained UN staff include six people working for the human rights office OHCHR and one person from the Office of the Special Envoy in Yemen (OSESGY), the UN Development Programme (UN Development Programme), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (World Food Programme), the World Health Organization (WHO) and two from UNESCO.

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