US urges Yemen’s Houthis to free US Embassy’s local staff

May 25, 2022, 7:47 PM | Updated: May 26, 2022, 7:49 am

CAIRO (AP) — The United States on Thursday urged Yemen’s Houthi rebels to release all U.S. Embassy local staffers that they had detained, following the death of one of them after seven months in captivity.

The Iran-backed Houthis seized the headquarters of the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa last October. They detained dozens of former staffers, many of whom were later released but at least 11 remained in the rebels’ custody.

Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation, has been fractured by a brutal civil war since 2014, when the Houthis seized Sanaa and much of northern Yemen, forcing the internationally recognized government into exile. A Saudi-led coalition entered the war a year later to try and restore the government to power. Washington shut down its embassy in 2015.

In a tweet, the embassy, now operating outside of Yemen, said it was mourning Abdulhameed Al-Ajami, a retired employee of the U.S. Agency for International Development, describing him as “an innocent grandfather” and “a proud Yemeni” dedicated to educating children in his country.

“We extend our condolences to his loved ones and call on the Houthis to end this injustice and release every single current and former U.S. Embassy employee now,” it said.

On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department issued a statement confirming Al-Ajami’s death but did not mention any details on the time or the circumstances of his death.

“The United States has been unceasing in its diplomatic efforts to secure the release of our Yemeni staff in Sana’a. We demand the Houthis release detained current and former U.S. employees,” spokesman Ned Price said.

The Houthis never charged Al-Ajami or any of the other captives or brought them to trial.

The former USAID worker was already suffering from moderate kidney failure at the time of his detention and his condition worsened in recent weeks but he had no access to medication or medical help, according to an international aid worker. The aid worker spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the detentions with the media.

The war in Yemen has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises and over the years turned into a regional proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. More than 150,000 people have been killed, including over 14,500 civilians.

The fighting has stalemated and the warring sides agreed to a two-month cease-fire, which expires next week. The United Nations is now pushing to extend the truce.

Occasional violence has persisted, however, On Thursday, at least five civilians were killed in the southern port city of Aden when a man dropped a hand grenade in a crowded market. The blast also wounded at least 20 people.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Image: Former President Donald Trump and his lawyer Todd Blanche appear at Manhattan criminal in Ne...

Associated Press

Police to review security outside courthouse hosting Trump trial after man sets himself on fire

Crews rushed away a person after fire was extinguished outside where jury selection was taking place in the Donald Trump criminal trial.

1 day ago

Photo: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is sworn-in before the House Committee on Hom...

the MyNorthwest Staff with wire reports

Senate dismisses two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security secretary, ends trial

The Senate dismissed impeachment charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, as Republicans pushed to remove him.

3 days ago

idaho gender-affirming care...

Associated Press

Supreme Court allows Idaho to enforce its ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth

The Supreme Court is allowing Idaho to enforce its ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth while lawsuits over the law proceed.

5 days ago

Image: Former President Donald Trump speaks to the press in Manhattan state court in New York City ...

Associated Press

Trump’s hush money trial gets underway; 1st day ends without any jurors selected

The historic hush money trial of Donald Trump got underway Monday with the arduous process of selecting a jury to hear the case.

5 days ago

Photo: Israeli Iron Dome air defense system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran, in cent...

Tia Goldenberg and Josef Federman, The Associated Press

Israel is quiet on next steps against Iran — and on which partners helped shoot down missiles

On Sunday, Israel's leaders credited an international military coalition with helping thwart a direct attack from Iran.

6 days ago

Early phases of Iran's drone attack against Israel. (Photo: Getty Images)...

Associated Press

The Latest | Iran launches its first direct military attack against Israel

Iran launched its first full-scale military attack against Israel on Saturday, sending drones toward Israel.

7 days ago

US urges Yemen’s Houthis to free US Embassy’s local staff