Franco-Tunisian ICRC hostage in Yemean freed


MUSCAT: A female Franco-Tunisian Red Cross worker kidnapped in Yemen almost a year ago was freed on Monday and taken to Muscat, officials in Oman and Switzerland said.

Nourane Houas, a staff of the ICRC’s humanitarian protection program in Yemen, was abducted in the Huthi rebel-held capital Sanaa in December 2015. She was seized along with a Yemeni employee who was also released several hours later.

The pair had been heading to work in Sanaa, which is under the control of the Shiite rebels.

The Omani foreign ministry said her release had been secured “at the request of the French authorities, the instructions of Sultan Qaboos and in coordination with Yemeni parties” which it did not identify.

On her arrival in Muscat, Houas thanked “the sultanate, without which, (her) release would not have happened”, according to Oman’s official news agency ONA.

French President Francois Hollande hailed Houas’s courage and expressed “his gratitude to all those who brought about a happy end to this ordeal,” in a statement released by his office.

“We are relieved and thankful that Nourane is now back with us, safe and sound,” said the ICRC head of delegation in Yemen, Alexandre Faite.

“It has taken a lot of effort, inside and outside Yemen and over many months, but finally we have a positive result,” said Faite.

“Our priority now is Nourane’s well-being and getting her home to her family. We would ask everyone to respect her and her family’s privacy at this time.”

Houas had appeared twice this year in videos released by her captors. In the first, she appealed for help from Hollande and his Yemeni counterpart Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

Houas is the second Frenchwoman to be released from captivity in Yemen with the help of Oman in more than a year. In August 2015, Isabelle Prime, who worked on a World Bank-funded project in Yemen, was released by her captors after spending nearly six months in captivity.



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