The Houthi militia group which controls the capital Sanaa has barred without explanation the head of the UN’s human rights office in Yemen from returning to the country, a UN spokeswoman said on Friday.
Elobaid Elobaid, a Canadian citizen, had been based in Yemen since October 2016, leading a team of 17 staff in Sanaa and 13 monitors in 11 of Yemen’s governorates. His visa expired in June but was not renewed.
The Iran-allied Houthis have been fighting against Yemen’s internationally-recognized government and Arab coalition since 2015
“The de-facto authorities in Sana’a in June refused to renew the visa of the head of the UN Human Rights Office, and since then he has been unable to re-enter the country,” UN human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell told reporters in Geneva.
“They provided no reason for their decision and our requests for them to reconsider have, to date, gone unanswered. This has heightened our concerns for the safety of our staff and field monitors in Sanaa and other governorates across Yemen, and we urge the Houthis to reverse their decision.”
The UN human rights office has frequently criticized the Houthis for indiscriminate shelling and sniping and the use of child soldiers.