Yemen's Houthis 'seized 19 oil vessels', Saudi Arabia claims

Yemen's Houthis 'seized 19 oil vessels', Saudi Arabia claims
Houthi rebels have seized over a dozen oil vessels, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Yemen has claimed.
2 min read
22 April, 2018
Hodeidah has been under blockade by the Saudi-led coalition [AFP]
Yemen's Houthi rebels are holding 19 oil vessels and tens of thousands of barrels of oil, according to Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Yemen Mohammed al-Jaber.

The ambassador said the Houthis prevented the vessels from entering rebel-controlled al-Hodeidah, the largest port in the country.

Hodeidah had been under blockade from a Saudi-led military coalition, which was widely condemned by human rights groups and NGOs.

Despite restrictions being eased by the coalition this year, shipping has not returned to normal levels.

Yemen's Houthi rebels have also launched attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, including tankers.

"Iranian-backed Houthi militias are holding more than 19 oil vessels in the militia-controlled area of al-Mustaqaf, preventing them from entering the port," Jaber said, according to Saudi media.

He claimed the vessels have been seized by the rebels along with 200,000 barrels of oil.

Yemen's Riyadh and Aden-based government also allege that the Houthis were holding ships and claim the rebels have seized cargos and aid.

"[Houthis] took control of the port of Hodeidah to detain vessels loaded with relief and humanitarian aid sent to those in need," Yemen's Minister of Local Administration and Higher Relief Committee Chairman Abdul Raqeeb Fatah told state media.

"Militias have detained over 65 relief vessels, and militarised the Hodeidah port, use it to seize relief and commercial vessels, and threaten international navigation in the Red Sea."

Yemen has been gripped by one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, with thousands dying from cholera and other diseases and millions at risk of famine.

The UN and NGOs have pleaded with the Saudi-led coalition - which is backing the internationally-recognised government - to allow aid into the country.

Human Rights Groups have also condemned Riyadh's air campaign against the Houthis, which is believed to have killed thousands of civilians.

Human rights groups have also accused Houthi militias of seizing aid that enters the country.

Almost 10,000 people have died - the vast majority civilians - since the Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015.