The United Nations announced on Friday that five of its security personnel who were abducted by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen 18 months ago have been successfully released, Reuters reported.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed his approval of the release and “reiterates that kidnapping is an inhumane and unjustifiable crime, and calls for the perpetrators to be held accountable,” a UN spokesperson said.
The personnel, comprising four individuals from Yemen and one from Bangladesh, were in “very good health and good spirits, despite everything that they went through,” the top UN official in Yemen, David Gressly, told reporters.
“But they went through a very difficult period of 18 months of isolation,” he added.
On February 11, 2022, a group of UN personnel was abducted within Yemen’s southern Abyan region.
Exploiting the ongoing conflict between a Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthis, the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) seized this opportunity to bolster its influence, as reported by Reuters.
Yemen has remained entrenched in conflict ever since the Houthi group displaced the government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014. In 2015, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia intervened to restore the government.
Peace efforts have gained significant momentum following the March agreement between Riyadh and Tehran to reestablish diplomatic relations that had been severed in 2016.