Militants in Yemen Seek Money Through Kidnapping Foreign Aid Workers

Sheba Intelligence | 2023-08-28 07:55 PM UTC


Unknown armed men in Yemen's Marib province kidnapped two doctors from Doctors Without Borders on Monday while they were on their way from the city to Safer Airport, informed sources told Sheba Intelligence. The two doctors, one with German citizenship and the second with Myanmar citizenship, were planning to travel to Aden.

Armed men intercepted the two doctors' convoy in Alerqain area, controlled by tribespeople, and led them to an unknown place, said a Sheba Intelligence correspondent in Marib.

The Doctors Without Borders confirmed it had lost contact with two of its employees in Yemen.

A security source in spoke to Sheba  Intelligence, saying that the organization does not coordinate with the security authorities to protect its employees during their movement.

The source added, "The organization previously refused security protection measures for its employees during their movement. A previous kidnapping happened, and the security apparatuses obtained details about the whereabouts of the kidnapped. However, the organization objected to the security authority's attempt to free the abductees. The organization decided to pay ransom, encouraging armed and terrorist groups to kidnap workers in international organizations."

In March 2022, an armed group kidnapped Doctors Without Borders employees from the Khashm Al-Ain area, Al-Abr district of Hadramout.

Security sources told Sheba Intelligence that the organization paid the armed group some millions as a ransom to free its employees through tribal mediation and the mediation of Oman.

Yemeni government sources said that the security forces had thwarted, in December 2022, an attempt to kidnap staff from the International Organization of Migration (IOM) in Al-Ruwaik of Marib, and the clash with the armed militants left two government soldiers dead.

Observers warn that the ransom paid to the kidnappers encourages armed and terrorist groups to commit crimes of kidnapping UN staff to earn or obtain funds to support terrorist activities.

Foreign workers of international organizations in Yemen have been kidnapped and killed over the past years of war.

In July this year, unknown gunmen in Taiz province assassinated Moayad Hamidi, Head of the World Food Programme office in Yemen. In 2018, unidentified militants killed aid worker Hanna Lahoud, who worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Taiz province.

The United Nations said Friday that five staff members kidnapped in Yemen's Abyan province in February 2022 were released in August this year.

In 2014, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said that three of the organization's employees had been kidnapped in southern Yemen. In 2018, the International Committee of the Red Cross withdrew more than seventy foreign employees from Yemen.

Yemen has been enduring harsh economic conditions amidst continued lax security. Armed tribesmen and militants take hostages to swap for prisoners or cash.