UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Monday that two contractors detained by authorities in Yemen’s capital Sanaa were not working for the world body, but were instead employed by a company that manages a facility used by the United Nations.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the two contractors arrived in Sanaa from Djibouti on a U.N. plane on Oct. 20 and were detained by the authorities at the airport.
When asked on Saturday if U.N. staff had been detained, the world body said two contractors were being held.
Iran-allied Houthi militia and army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh control Sanaa. A Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March to try to restore the government after it was toppled by the Houthis.
“Contractors from the same company had been flown into Sanaa by the U.N. before without any incident,” Dujarric said. “They are there as part of the company that manages the facility that the U.N. uses in Sanaa.”
A U.S. State Department official said on Saturday it was aware of reports that two U.S. citizens had been detained, but gave no further details.
The United Nations has designated Yemen as one of its highest-level humanitarian crises, alongside emergencies in South Sudan, Syria and Iraq. It says more than 21 million people in Yemen need help, or about 80 percent of the population.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Andrew Hay