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Rebels in Yemen on Saturday rejected a UN Security Council call to “immediately” release an Emirati-flagged ship seized in the Red Sea, saying the boat was carrying weapons.
On January 3, the Houthi rebels, who control large swaths of Yemeni territory, captured the boat “Rwabee” off the Hodeida region in the west of the country, which has been at war since 2014.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have denounced an act of “piracy”, these two Gulf countries intervening militarily in Yemen since 2015 to support power against the Houthis, supported by Iran, Ryad's great regional rival.
According to a rebel government official, Hussein el-Azzi, quoted by the Houthi Al-Massira channel, “the boat belongs to a country participating in the aggression against our people (…). It entered our territorial waters in violation of international law.”
“The ship did not contain dates and children's games, but weapons intended for extremist groups,” he said. he says.
The Security Council statement “has nothing to do with laws, freedom of navigation or the safety of boats”, the official continued, accusing the Council of “standing in solidarity with killers and lawbreakers”. .
On Friday, the Security Council unanimously called for the “immediate” release of the ship and its crew. Drafted by the UK under pressure from the Emirates, a non-permanent member of the Council, the statement underlined “the importance of freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea”.
The Saudis claim that the boat contains equipment intended for the construction of a hospital in the Yemeni archipelago of Socotra, controlled by separatists from southern Yemen, close to the Emirates.
According to the Emirates, the The ship's crew is made up of 11 members, including seven Indians as well as nationals from Ethiopia, Indonesia, Burma and the Philippines.
War in Yemen has killed according to the UN 377,000 people, a large majority victims of the indirect consequences of the fighting – hunger, disease and lack of drinking water.