Yemeni tribesmen target aid workers anew

Six U.N. employees were taken hostage by Yemeni tribesmen in the latest in an alarming series of aid worker abductions in the conflict-torn Middle Eastern country.

The six aid workers — a German, an Iraqi, a Palestinian, a Colombian and two Yemenis — were abducted on Tuesday (Jan. 31) while traveling in the city of Wadi Ahjar in the governorate of Al Mahwit. All six are working for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, according to News.au.com, which cited a U.N. employee in Sanaa.

This is the second such incident in January. The kidnapping happened just days after another U.N. employee — a Norwegian expert of the U.N. Development Program — was freed by his abductors, who were also Yemeni tribesmen. Kidnapping of foreigners is reportedly a common tactic of tribesmen to force Yemeni officials into meeting their demands, such as the release of prisoners. 

A senior official of Yemen’s interior ministry said negotiations are underway for the fast and safe release of the six aid workers, CNN reports.

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About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.