UN council calls on Yemen’s Houthis to release UAE ship and crew

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The UN Security Council on Friday condemned the seizure of a United Arab Emirates vessel and demanded that Houthi rebels in Yemen immediately release the vessel and its crew.

A press release from the UN’s most powerful body called on all parties “to quickly resolve the matter and underlined the importance of freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, in accordance with the international law”.

The seizure of the UAE-flagged vessel Rwabee on January 3 by the Iran-backed Houthis coincided with a massive memorial in Tehran on the second anniversary of the US drone attack that killed a top general Iranian, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad. The Houthis said they seized the ship off Hodeidah, Yemen’s main port, because it was carrying military equipment.

The Security Council “stressed the need to ensure the safety and well-being of the crew until their release”.

On Thursday, the UN mission monitoring the implementation of a ceasefire and the withdrawal of rival forces from Hodeidah and the two small ports of Salif and Ras Issa tweeted that as part of its weekly patrol of Routinely, she had traveled to the port of Salif and nearby areas where her team “saw the Rwabee ship from afar and spoke to its crew members”. He gave no details.

The capture of the Rwabee marked the latest assault in the Red Sea, a crucial route for international trade and energy shipments.

Yemen has been embroiled in civil war since 2014, when the Houthis took the capital, Sanaa, and much of the north of the country, forcing the government to flee south and then to Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition that included the United Arab Emirates and was backed at the time by the United States went to war months later, in 2015, seeking to restore the government to power.

The conflict has since escalated into a regional proxy war that has killed tens of thousands of civilians and combatants. The war has also created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions to suffer food and medical shortages and pushing the country to the brink of famine.

A statement from the Saudi-led coalition accused the Houthis of committing an act of “armed piracy” involving the Rwabee, and said the ship was transporting medical equipment from a dismantled Saudi field hospital on the remote island of Socotra in Yemen, without providing evidence.

After the Houthis showed video footage of the Rwabee showing military-style inflatable rafts, trucks and other vehicles on the ship and what appeared to be a collection of guns inside a shipping container, television The Saudi state alleged that the Houthis transferred the weapons to the ship.

In Wednesday’s statement, the Security Council reiterated its condemnation of the growing number of incidents off the coast of Yemen, including attacks on civilian and commercial vessels, “which pose a significant risk to the maritime safety of vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea”. .”

The British-drafted council statement also urged all parties to de-escalate the situation in Yemen and ‘engage constructively’ with UN special envoy Hans Grundberg, who is trying to restart political talks. to end the seven-year conflict in the Arab world’s poorest nation. .

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