The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Monday that 49 of its citizens were held by the Shia Houthi militia in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.
The ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement issued on Monday that "the 49 Egyptian citizens were residing at Hodeida province for years before being detained in the remand prison in the capital Sanaa.”
Abu Zeid did not reveal the dates of their detention.
"Egypt's ambassador to Yemen Yusuf al-Sharqawi had made intensive contacts to secure their release," read the statement. “He contacted Yemen’s prime minister Ahmed bin Dagher and Foreign Minister Abdul Malik al-Mekhlafi.”
“He also made contacts with the UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who promised to intensify his talks with the Yemeni parties in order to release the detainees,” Abu Zeid added.
"These contacts allowed detainees to communicate with their families,” he added, pointing out that "it was scheduled for them to be released [this past] Saturday."
According to local reports, during the past two days, the families of detainees called on the Egyptian presidency to intervene in this crisis, saying that they had been detained since the end of November.
The Houthi Shia militia has yet to comment.
Yemen has been racked by chaos since 2014, when the Houthis and their allies overran the capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing members of the Saudi-backed government to temporarily flee to Riyadh.
*Reporting by Rabi al-Sukkari; Writing by Ali Abo Rezeg