UAE pushes UN on Houthi 'act of piracy' after ship hijacking

Council members are set to discuss Yemen's war later this week

The UN headquarters building in Manhattan, New York. AFP
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The UAE has formally complained to the UN Security Council about an “act of piracy” in which Yemen’s Houthi rebels hijacked a vessel with 11 crewmembers earlier this month, it was reported on Monday.

A letter from the UAE’s ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh said the UAE-flagged Rawabi cargo vessel was carrying crewmembers from India, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines, AFP said.

"This act of piracy is contrary to fundamental provisions of international law," said the letter, which was dated January 9.

"It also poses a serious threat to the freedom and safety of navigation as well as international trade in the Red Sea, and to regional security and stability."

Ms Nusseibeh said the Rawabi was a "civilian cargo vessel" that was leased by a Saudi Arabian firm and was carrying equipment for a field hospital. It was transiting an international route, she added.

Security Council members are set to discuss Yemen's war on Wednesday. The UAE will take part in the talks, having commenced its two-year term on the body on January 1.

Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the United States have condemned the Houthi rebel hijacking of the vessel off the coast of Yemen on January 2.

It was not the first time the Houthi rebels have targeted shipping.

In November 2019, the Houthis seized two South Korean vessels and a Saudi-flagged tug in the Red Sea a few kilometres off Uqban Island, north of Hodeidah. In July the previous year, Riyadh said the rebels attacked two Saudi-operated oil tankers in the Red Sea.

A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen to support the internationally recognised government in March 2015 after the Iran-backed Houthis captured the capital, Sanaa, the previous September.

The UN describes Yemen as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Updated: January 10, 2022, 6:31 PM