Five UN staff abducted in southern Yemen while returning after field mission

‘United Nations is in close contact with the authorities to secure their release’

Namita Singh
Sunday 13 February 2022 09:59 GMT
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File: Yemeni pro-government fighters man a position near al-Muhsam camp during fighting to drive the pro-Iran Houthi rebels from the area of Harad, in Yemen
File: Yemeni pro-government fighters man a position near al-Muhsam camp during fighting to drive the pro-Iran Houthi rebels from the area of Harad, in Yemen (AFP via Getty Images)

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Five employees of the United Nations have been kidnapped in southern Yemen, by unknown armed men on Friday.

The staffers were returning to Aden from a field mission when they were abducted, said Russell Geekie, spokesperson for the top UN official in Yemen.

"The United Nations is in close contact with the authorities to secure their release," Mr Geekie said on Saturday.

UN Secretary General’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric declined to comment on the matter saying that they are not commenting “for obvious reasons”, reported Al Jazeera.

The employees have been identified as four Yemeni nationals and one foreigner by the government and worked in the UN Department of Security and Safety, reported DW.

Among the abducted include Akem Sofiol, the director of the United Nations Office for Security and Safety in Aden, reported Anadolu Agency, quoting Adel al-Awsji, the security chief of Lauder directorate in Abyan province.

He told the outlet that the gunmen in the Suwayda area stopped the car in which the UN employees were commuting, and took them to an unknown location. While a manhunt has been launched, DW reported that the abductors are demanding ransom money as well as release of militant’s imprisoned by the internationally recognised Yemeni government.

The country has been mired in violence since the Iran- aligned Houthi movement ousted the government in late 2014, following which military coalition led by Saudi Arabia intervened months later.

Al Qaeda and Islamic State are known to have carried out attacks in the south, destabilising the country, whose 80 per cent of population is not reliant on aid.

Additional reporting from the agencies

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