“We are greatly relieved by the release of our staff members and the driver. They are in good condition, and we are pleased that they are now reunited with their families,” said Mutasim Hamdan, Country Director for NRC in Yemen.
NRC in Yemen will focus on providing support to the affected staff members and their families, while NRC’s programs continue in Al-Hudaydah, and in the rest of Yemen. Out of respect for the privacy of the seven individuals, NRC is neither disclosing their identities nor commenting further on this issue.
Following a relief aid distribution on 14 February in the city of Al-Hudaydah, Yemen, local authorities detained three NRC national staff, three casual staff and a contracted driver. The staff were detained following a misunderstanding regarding old markings on some recycled boxes that contained hygiene supplies. Those recycled boxes were originally from Saudi Arabia and were dated January 2015. The boxes were originally used for a food basket project, and were repurposed by a contracted vendor to be reused for new hygiene kit packaging. As Yemen has long been in conflict, recycling like this is common.
NRC does not take any Saudi funding in Yemen. The organization upholds the values of humanity, independence, neutrality and impartiality for all its programs.
NRC is alarmed by the critical humanitarian situation and worsening food crisis in Yemen, an estimated 17.1 million people suffer from food insecurity, including 7 million at least who are severely food insecure while 462,000 children face immediate risk of death from malnutrition. Almost 19 million people, or nearly 70 percent of the population, are in need of humanitarian assistance.