The United States is calling on Yemeni rebels to “end injustice” and release current and former employees of the US Embassy in Sanaa.
The United States has renewed its call on the Houthis in Yemen to release US Embassy staff detained after the death of a retired US Agency for International Development (USAID) employee who was under rebel guard.
The U.S. Embassy in Sanaa on Thursday paid tribute to the late staff member, Abdulhameed Al-Ajami, calling him “a proud Yemeni dedicated to the education of Yemeni children.”
“We send our condolences to his loved ones and call on the Houthis to end this injustice and release all current and former employees of the US Embassy now,” the embassy said in a statement shared on Twitter.
We mourn retired USAID employee Abdulhameed Al-Ajami who died in Houthi captivity. He was an innocent grandfather who should never have died away from his family, a proud Yemeni devoted to the education of Yemeni children.
— United States Embassy in Yemen السفارة الأمريكية لدى اليمن (@USEmbassyYemen) May 26, 2022
The Associated Press news agency quoted an unidentified international aid worker as saying that Al-Ajami, who was never charged with a crime, suffered from moderate kidney failure – a condition that worsened over his detention without access to medical assistance.
The US State Department said on Wednesday that Al-Ajami “had no contact with his family during the last six months of his life”.
“The United States has made relentless diplomatic efforts to secure the release of our Yemeni personnel in Sanaa,” spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. “We demand that the Houthis release current and former detained US employees. »
Washington had closed its embassy in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, in 2015, as the civil war in the country escalated. The Houthis seized the compound that housed the diplomatic post last October. The rebels also detained dozens of former local employees.
And while the Houthis later released many personnel, US officials have previously said about a dozen remain in rebel custody.
The Houthis took control of Sanaa in 2014. The following year, a Saudi-led, US-backed coalition intervened in Yemen to push back the rebels and restore the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi .
Hadi transferred his powers to a new presidential council last month.
Al-Ajami’s death comes amid United Nations efforts to renew a fragile truce that had halted fighting since early April. The temporary ceasefire is due to expire in early June.
The Saudi-led coalition accuses the Yemeni rebels of being proxies for Iran – a charge the Houthis and Tehran deny.
For their part, the Houthis view Washington as a partner in the Saudi-led coalition, and their spokespersons and media often refer to the war as “US-Saudi aggression”.