Six OCHA aid workers freed in Yemen

A street scene in Sana'a, Yemen. Six aid workers that were kidnapped by tribesmen in the country have been released. Photo by: © Obi Anyadike / IRIN

The Defense Ministry of Yemen confirmed on Thursday (Feb. 2) the release of U.N. employees abducted in Sanaa two days ago.

The statement said the six aid workers — a German, an Iraqi, a Palestinian, a Colombian and two Yemenis — were released following mediation efforts led by Yemeni Energy Minister Saleh Samee.

On Wednesday (Feb. 1), one of the kidnappers told Reuters the prisoner — a Yemeni tribesman who the kidnappers want released in exchange — has been “handed over to the mediators.” The prisoner has been held by authorities allegedly for shooting at pro-democracy protesters.

But Samee, who led a team of prominent locals in the negotiations, told The Asssociated Press the kidnappers released the hostages without collecting any money or securing guarantees from the government of the release of their colleagues from prison.

A U.N. official in Sanaa who spoke on condition of anonymity said the organization is awaiting confirmation of the release.

The six aid workers are working for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. They were abducted while traveling in the city of Wadi Ahjar in the governate of Al Mahwit. Their release comes days after Yemeni tribesmen freed a Norwegian expert of the U.N. Development Program. The UNDP expert was kidnapped early January in Sanaa.

Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.