SANAA, Yemen – A Tunisian Red Cross worker was abducted by gunmen while on her way to work Tuesday morning in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, the international humanitarian organization said.
Another staff member was also abducted but was released unharmed after several hours, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.
“We do not know who is behind this abduction, but I appeal to those responsible to release our colleague as soon as possible,” Antoine Grand, ICRC head of delegation in Yemen, said.
Sanaa is controlled by the mainly Shiite Houthi rebels and allied military units, who are battling a range of local militias, Gulf troops and loyalists of the Gulf-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and jihadists.
“Actions like this, against humanitarian workers, only make it more difficult for us to provide the assistance the people so desperately need,” he added.
The abduction is the latest in a series of attacks on Red Cross workers.
In September two of the organization’s Yemeni staff were shot and killed when a lone gunman opened fire on their convoy in Houthi-held northern Yemen.
In August the Red Cross evacuated international staff from its office in the southern city of Aden, controlled by forces aligned with Hadi, after gunmen stormed the building, holding staff at gunpoint and stealing cars, cash and equipment.
Yemen has seen intensified conflict since Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia in March, prompting Riyadh to launch an air campaign against the Houthis who it sees as proxies for rival Iran.
The fighting, airstrikes and restrictions by the warring parties on shipping and internal transport have had a devastating effect on civilians in what was already one of the poorest countries in the Arab world.
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