Yemen: Human rights organizations urge release of UN staff detained by Houthis

مسلحون حوثيون

Yemeni activists have initiated a solidarity campaign for employees of relief and humanitarian agencies and organizations who were abducted in Yemen by the Houthi group, known as "Ansar Allah". They are calling on the United Nations (UN) to adopt a more assertive stance on this matter. 

Recently, the Houthi group launched an abduction campaign targeting 13 UN agency employees and 11 others from civil society organizations. 

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the immediate release of the UN employees who are detained, stating, "This development is alarming and raises serious doubts about the Houthis' commitment to a negotiated resolution of the conflict. The United Nations condemns all arbitrary detentions of civilians." 

Among the 13 detained UN employees, six are from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, two from UNESCO, and one each from the Office of the Special Envoy, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Program, UNICEF, and the World Food Program. Additionally, at least 11 workers from civil society have been detained. 

The UN reported that four additional staff members have been detained incommunicado by the de facto Houthi authorities since 2021 and 2023, with no contact allowed with their families, organizations, or agencies. 

After the detention of six staff members from the UN Human Rights Office in Yemen, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, called on the Houthi group (Ansar Allah – the de facto authority in Sana'a, Yemen's capital) to immediately and unconditionally release them, as well as all others detained due to their affiliation with the UN, international non-governmental organizations, or other entities supporting humanitarian efforts. 

Alkarama's action

Alkarama is deeply concerned about the ongoing human rights violations in Yemen, with no clear path to accountability or an end to impunity in sight. 

Alkarama has submitted numerous individual complaints and parallel reports to UN Special Procedures and human rights bodies regarding violations in Yemen, focusing particularly on cases of arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and torture. 

These violations are perpetrated by various parties involved in the conflict, including the de facto authorities aligned with the Houthis controlling the capital, Sana'a, and densely populated areas in the north and center of the country. They also involve recognized government authorities, whose temporary capital is Aden in the south of Yemen.