Houthis detain aid workers, UN staff: Aid group, diplomatic source

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels have detained more than a dozen aid workers, including United Nations staff, in an apparently coordinated sweep, a diplomatic source and a Yemeni NGO said on June 7.

At least 18 aid workers were kidnapped in four rebel-held parts of the war-torn country, the Yemeni Mayyun Organization for Human Rights said, listing 10 workers from U.N. agencies.

A diplomatic source who spoke on condition of anonymity also told AFP that more than a dozen aid workers including U.N. staff were kidnapped on June 6.

There was no immediate comment from the Houthis. Regional officials, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, confirmed the U.N. detentions.

The abductions underline the perilous task facing aid workers in Yemen, whose long-running civil war has precipitated one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

"The Houthi armed group raided the homes and kidnapped staff of the United Nations and other international organizations operating in four governorates under" their control, the Mayyun Organization said.

This "serious escalation... constitutes a violation of the privileges and immunities of United Nations personnel," it added, describing the abductions as "blackmail practices in order to obtain political and economic gains."

The "simultaneous" abductions took place in the capital Sanaa, the key port of Hodeida, Amran and Saada, the rebels' traditional stronghold, the aid group said.

"The Houthis are brutalizing humanitarian aid workers for economic and political gain rather than fulfilling the basic rights of the Yemenis living in territories they control," Niku Jafarnia, Yemen researcher at Human Rights Watch, told AFP.

The Houthis have kidnapped, arbitrarily...

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