A French-Tunisian aid-worker kidnapped in Yemen in December was released last night following intensive diplomatic efforts from the Sultanate of Oman.
According to The Times of Oman Newspaper. The International Red Cross Worker, Nourane Houas who had been held hostage for ten months in Yemen finally arrived safely at Muscat Airport in Oman last night.
The Omani National Press Agency (ONA)reported that the Sultanate of Oman had cooperated with Yemeni “parties’ to find Houas and secure her release. Her transfer from Yemen to Muscat was “in preparation to repatriate her home.”
President of France, Francois Hollande has “expressed gratitude to all those who have enabled the successful outcome of this event, including the Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.” Hollande also paid tribute to “the courage Nourane Houas during his long detention.” Thus far no comment has be made by the Tunisian Government.
Reacting to news of Houas release, ICRC’s Head of Delegation in Yemen, Alexandre Faite said, “Her abduction was a terrible ordeal for her, as well as for her family, friends and colleagues. And it has obviously dealt a real blow to our humanitarian work in Yemen.”
Houas had been working for the ICRC in their office in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, when last December she was kidnapped long with a Yemeni man by a group of armed individuals. The Yemeni man was released just hours after the attack but Houas was transferred to an unspecified location.
Hopes for Houas’ safe release diminished following the release of two videos, which seemed to indicate the growing threat to Houas’ safety. In August, her captors posted a video threatening her execution, while in May a short video, released by Houas herself showed her pleading for help from Yemen’s exiled president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and French President Francois Hollande.
According to Reuters the French government had reached out to the sultanate for assistance in finding Houas, as the Gulf state had previously used it’s good relations with Yemen’s dominant Houthi group to secure the release of a number Western nationals who had been reported missing or detained. War torn Yemen has become an increasingly dangerous place for foreign nationals, with aid workers being particularly vulnerable. According to the ICRC two Red Cross workers were shot dead in an attack last September (2015).
Sanaa has been under the control of the Houth militia since last September who have allegiance to Iran. The Houthi aggression provoked military action in March of this year by a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia which since then has been waging an air-born campaign against the Houthis as well the allied troops loyal to Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.