Aid under threat: Yemen rebels detain NGO staff

Aid under threat: Yemen rebels detain NGO staff
2 min read
02 April, 2017
Yemeni rebels have detained seven local employees of a humanitarian aid group and accused them of spying for foreign intelligence.
Shia Houthi rebels and their allies control most of Yemen's north and west [Anadolu]

Rebels in Yemen have detained five staff members of the International Medical Corps and two contracted drivers, the aid organisation and security officials said on Saturday.

The Houthi rebels raided a hotel the humanitarian group was using in Ibb province, taking the employees to a prison in the capital Sanaa and accusing them of spying for foreign intelligence agencies, security officials said.

"We are working to ensure this matter can be resolved as soon as possible," the Los Angeles-based relief agency said in a statement posted on Friday on its website.

The organisation's website says it has more than 150 local staff in Yemen and that it has operated since 2012 from three offices in the Arabian Peninsula country.

It says its relief efforts continue to provide a lifeline for families in the rebel-held capital and in Ibb, as well as the flashpoint southwestern city of Taiz and Aden and Lahej in the south.

"Despite the ongoing conflict that has caused a steady deterioration of humanitarian conditions across the country since 2015, our relief efforts continue to provide a lifeline for families," in several Yemeni cities, said Rebecca Gustafson, a group spokesperson.

Shia Houthi rebels and their allies control most of Yemen's north and west, while forces loyal to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition, control the south and east.

Humanitarian agencies have long complained of the lack of access to people in dire need for help in war-torn Yemen.

The UN says seven million people face serious risk of famine unless international donors intervene, and has called for $2.1 billion in humanitarian aid.

More than 7,700 people have been killed since the coalition intervened in March 2015, most of them civilians, according to World Health Organisation figures.