U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed Friday the safe release of five staff members who were kidnapped and held for 18 months by a branch of al-Qaida in Yemen.
“The secretary-general is profoundly relieved that their ordeal and the anxiety of their families and friends have finally come to an end,” spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters, adding that Guterres called for the perpetrators to be held accountable.
All five worked for the Department of Safety and Security. They were kidnapped while returning to Aden from a field mission in the southern governorate of Abyan in February 2022.
The United Nations would not comment on the negotiations that led to their release but did thank the government of Oman for assisting. The organization also has a policy of not paying ransom.
Bangladeshi national Akm Sufiul Anam arrived in Dhaka on Wednesday. He told reporters there he never thought he would get home alive.
“I thought the terrorists might kill me anytime,” Agence France-Presse reported Anam said.
Anam said he was not physically tortured but had often been kept blindfolded.
The other four hostages were Yemeni nationals. The U.N. identified them as Mazen Bawazir, Bakeel Al-Mahdi, Mohammed Al-Mulaiki and Khaled Mokhtar Sheikh.
U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator David Gressly told reporters in a video call that he had arrived in Aden a few hours earlier from the southern port city of Mukalla with the four freed Yemenis. He said they are unharmed and in good health.
“I had a chance to speak with them on the way back,” Gressly said. “I am very much impressed by not only their good spirits, but the strength that they have exhibited under extraordinary circumstances.”
Two other U.N. staff members have been in detention in Houthi-controlled Sana’a since November 2021. A Jordanian staffer from the World Food Program was also shot and killed in southwest Yemen on July 21.
Source : VOA News