By Murad al-Arifi
Yemen’s Houthi Shia militia and its allies have released seven employees of the International Medical Corps (IMC), a nonprofit humanitarian organization, who were detained last week in the central city of Ibb, a local activist told Anadolu Agency on Monday.
The source, who spoke anonymously due to security concerns, said the U.S.-based IMC had threatened to halt relief activities in all Houthi-held parts of the city if the seven were not released.
“This pressure prompted the Houthis to release them -- five aid workers and two drivers -- on Sunday evening,” the source said.
“They were first taken to capital Sanaa, where they were released," he added.
Last Thursday, Houthi militants stormed a hotel in Ibb where the IMC employees had been staying, whisking them off to a nearby prison, according to the source.
Abdul Raqeeb Fath, Yemen’s local administration minister (and chairman of Yemen’s Supreme Relief Committee), condemned the abductions.
“Violations perpetrated by the Houthis and their allies against relief organizations have led to some of the latter being shut down,” Fath said.
In mid-March, Doctors without Borders (DWB) was forced to halt its relief work in Ibb due to what it described as an inability to carry out its activities “according to the principles of independence and neutrality," the organization said on its Facebook page.