The Houthis intensified their demands for dismissal after OHCHR issued a statement condemning the shelling of a women's prison
UN human rights office dismisses its Yemen representative at Houthis’ request
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has terminated its contract with its representative in Yemen, Al-Obaid Ahmed Al-Obaid, at the request of the Houthis, UN sources told Almasdar Online.
Al-Obaid worked in the Sana’a office of OHCHR from October 2016 until June 2018, when the Houthis expelled him from the capital following his condemnation for the killing of human rights activist Reham Al-Badr.
Al-Badr, who also worked on OHCHR projects, was killed by a Houthi missile in Taiz city. Al-Obaid explained at the time that the missile came from Houthi-controlled areas, which angered the rebels and led to his expulsion.
The Houthis prevented Al-Obaid from entering the country in late September and forced his plane to return to Jordan, where he has continued his work from Amman. That incident followed the publication of a report by the OHCHR’s Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, which revealed serious crimes and abuses committed by the parties to the conflict, including sexual violence against women in Houthi-run prisons.
According to the sources, the Houthis continued to press for his dismissal, and their demands intensified after OHCHR issued a statement condemning the shelling of a women's prison in Taiz. The report said the missile came from areas under Houthi control.
The Houthis sent numerous letters of objection to the United Nations, accusing Al-Obaid of colluding with the Saudi-led coalition and not providing the Houthis with human rights reports before they were published.
The Houthis had also claimed in a letter with the UN to possess “scandalous” videos of Al-Obaid that they threatened to release, according to a source familiar with the correspondence.
The source told Almasdar Online that the Houthis have threatened Al-Obaid and his family since 2018, and claimed the UN ignored these threats, issuing no statement in support of its representative nor providing him with the necessary protection, and finally, bowing to the demands of the Houthis and dismissing him from his position.
OHCHR did not respond to Almasdar Online’s request for comment.
A former UN official who requested anonymity told Almasdar Online that he suspects that the Houthis insisted on Al-Obaid’s dismissal in order to send a message to all staff of international organizations that they too could be dismissed from their jobs if they choose to reveal Houthi abuses.
"It is truly shameful to send a message of weakness and surrender from the United Nations…” he said.
Editing by Ahlam Mohsen and Casey Coombs