UN condemns seizure of closed US Embassy in Yemen by Houthis

A UN Security Council statement calls for immediate and safe release of embassy's local employees under detention

Houthi militants holding their weapons chant slogans during a tribal gathering. — File photo
Houthi militants holding their weapons chant slogans during a tribal gathering. — File photo


Published: Fri 19 Nov 2021, 1:40 AM

The UN Security Council on Thursday condemned “in the strongest terms” the intrusion and seizure of the now-closed US Embassy in Yemen’s capital and the detention of dozens of local employees by the country’s Houthi rebels.

A statement approved by all 15 members of the UN’s most powerful body called for “an immediate withdrawal of all Houthi elements from the premises” and “the immediate and safe release of those still under detention”.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters last week that diplomatic efforts had succeeded in securing the release of most of the detained employees, but that some remain in custody. He said then that work was continuing to free the others.

The Security Council stressed that the Vienna convention prohibits any intrusion into diplomatic property as well as the “inviolability” and “immunity” of the premises from searches and requisition — and that property and archives of a diplomatic mission that has been temporarily closed “must be respected and protected”.

The council’s statement followed Wednesday’s demand by the United Nations for the release of two UN staffers detained earlier this month by the Yemen rebels.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday that UN officials were given assurances by senior Houthi officials last week that the two men, both Yemenis, would be released. He told reporters on Thursday that they still have not been freed.

He said the UN staffers work for the UN human rights office and Unesco and were detained on November 5 and November 7.

More news from MENA