United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the safe release of five staff members who were kidnapped and held by a branch of Al-Qaeda for 18 months in Yemen, Voice of America (VOA) reported.
“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 on August 11, adding that Guterres called for the perpetrators to be held accountable.
As per the reports, 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 organisation also has a policy of not paying ransom, VOA reported.
Bangladeshi national Akm Sufiul Anam arrived in Dhaka on August 9. He told reporters there he never thought he would get home alive.
The other four hostages were Yemeni nationals. The UN identified them as Mazen Bawazir, Bakeel Al-Mahdi, Mohammed Al-Mulaiki and Khaled Mokhtar Sheikh, VOA reported.
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator David Gressly told reporters that the four freed Yemenis 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,” he added.
Two other UN 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.
(with inputs from ANI)