By Peter Kenny
GENEVA (AA) - The UN on Tuesday denounced the recent military escalation in Yemen and expressed concern for the wellbeing of its two staff members detained in the capital Sanaa.
In a statement, the UN Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg called on the warring parties to immediately de-escalate.
“The escalation in recent weeks is among the worst we have seen in Yemen for years, and the threat to civilian lives is increasing,” Grundberg said.
“Airstrikes on Sanaa have resulted in the loss of civilian lives and damaged civilian infrastructure and residential areas,” he added.
The UN envoy said the continued offensive on Ma'rib and the ongoing missile attacks on the governorate resulted in civilian casualties, damage to civilian objects, and mass displacement.
Grunberg said that "2021 is ending on a tragic note for Yemenis," with millions of people struggling with poverty, hunger, and severe restrictions on their freedom of movement.
He called for opening the Sanaa airport and removing the obstacles hindering Yemenis' ability to move within or between governorates inside Yemen.
Grundberg also expressed his concern about sustained attacks against Saudi Arabia, resulting in civilian casualties and damaged civilian infrastructure.
Separately, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulayand UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said they are "deeply concerned" for the wellbeing of two of their staff members detained in early November in Sanaa.
“Although the two staff members remain in custody, the UN has not received information about the grounds or legal basis for their detention, or their current status, despite earlier assurances” by Houthis of their immediate release, they said in a statement.
Citing the privileges and immunity accorded to the UN staff under international law, the UN officials called for their immediate release.