The United States expressed its concern on Thursday about the Houthi militia, which is backed by Iran, continuing to hinder the peace process in Yemen and harassing American and UN-employed local Yemeni workers.
“They will release our colleagues immediately if they are serious about peace and maintaining international norms,” Samantha Power, administrator of the US Agency for International Development, said.
The Houthis’ capture and incursion of a compound that used to house the US embassy in Sanaa, which resulted in the detention of scores of Yemeni staff, was strongly criticized by the UN Security Council.
The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, made a similar remark the day before, stating the Houthi militia is continuing their attacks despite the Security Council’s condemnation.
During a Security Council briefing on Yemen on Wednesday, she said, “The Houthis must immediately cease threats, release unharmed those detained, vacate the facility, return seized US property, and cease their threats against our personnel and their families.”
On Dec. 28, UNESCO and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed their persistent worry for the safety of two of their staff members who were held in Sanaa in early November.
Since that time, the UN has been unable to communicate with the staff members.
“Despite earlier pledges by the Ansar Allah movement (commonly known as the Houthis) of their prompt release, the UN has not received information about the grounds or legal basis for their imprisonment, or their present condition,” the two UN organizations stated in a joint statement.
“OHCHR and UNESCO recall the privileges and immunities afforded to UN system staff under international law, which are vital to the full fulfillment of their official tasks, and demand that the staff members be released immediately and without further delay,” they added.