More than a week after the Iran-backed Houthi militias hijacked a United Arab Emirates-flagged cargo vessel, the UN mission in Yemen's port of Hodeidah (UNMHA) expressed "great concern" on Tuesday over claims it was being used for military purposes, and demanded access for an inspection.
"UNMHA has requested as part of its mandate to undertake an inspection and stands ready to address concerns pertaining to any militarization of the ports," the UN statement said, adding that protecting the ports was "in the interest of the Yemeni people.”
The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen has said the Houthis have militarized Red Sea ports.
As the Yemeni government accuses UNMHA of losing legitimacy over its failure to force the Houthis to implement the clauses of the Stockholm Agreement on Hodeidah, the UN mission reminded “the parties that Hodeidah ports are a crucial lifeline for millions of Yemeni people.”
The mission called on the parties “to preserve the civilian character of the public infrastructure and ensure the protection of Hodeidah ports.”
The UAE has formally complained to the UN Security Council about an “act of piracy” after the Houthis hijacked the vessel.
"This act of piracy is contrary to fundamental provisions of international law," said the letter.
"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."
The letter said the Rwabee was a civilian cargo vessel that was carrying equipment used at a field hospital. It was travelling on an international route.