Saudi Arabia helps free French hostage from Houthis in Yemen

The Frenchman Alain Goma, retained in Yemen, was released according to the Elysee. (Twitter)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia helps free French hostage from Houthis in Yemen

  • France’s president has announced the release of the French citizen held in hostage in Yemen for more than 4 months
  • French media reported Goma was on a sailing trip when damage on the ship forced him to dock in a Yemeni port

PARIS: A Frenchman held captive in war-torn Yemen for over four months after his boat ran into trouble near the port of Hodeidah has been released with the help of Saudi Arabia, the French presidency announced Tuesday.
Alain Goma dropped anchor in Hodeidah on June 3 after running out of water while sailing to India.
Hodeidah is under the control of Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who took him prisoner.
It is not clear whether they made any demands of France in return for the release of Goma, who is in his fifties.
In a statement President Emmanuel Macron has congratulated all those who contributed to Alain Goma’s release. Goma will be back in France soon.
Macron said Tuesday that he’s grateful to Oman’s sultan and authorities for their “decisive” role and Saudi authorities for their help.
Yemeni security officials said the Houthis released Goma from a prison in the capital, Sanaa, which is also under rebel control.
They said the release came after “intensive” talks between France’s envoy to Yemen and Houthi leaders in Sanaa. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief reporters.
Goma’s family members had last month made the situation of Goma public in French media so that he wouldn’t become a “forgotten hostage.”


Yemeni spokesman says militants seek to ignite Hodeidah fighting

Updated 21 March 2019
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Yemeni spokesman says militants seek to ignite Hodeidah fighting

  • Renewed fighting in Hodeidah would risk severing the main passage for humanitarian aid
  • A senior Houthi member earlier said a withdrawal is “impossible”

CAIRO: Yemen’s militants are igniting more conflict by their refusal to give up control of the key port city of Hodeida, the focus of months of UN-brokered talks, a government spokesman said.
Renewed fighting in Hodeidah would risk severing the main passage for humanitarian aid to the rest of the country, including northern Yemen, a heartland of the Houthi militants.
Rageh Badi, spokesman for the internationally recognized Yemen government, denounced remarks by senior militant leader Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi who earlier this week told The Associated Press that the Saudi-led coalition, which backs the government side in the conflict, is trying to change the terms of the agreement struck last year in Sweden and that a militant withdrawal would therefore be “impossible.”
Badi told reporters at a press conference Wednesday in the southern city of Aden that such remarks could set off renewed fighting in Hodeidah, the key entry point for international aid to the war-torn country, and violate the tentative peace agreement reached by the two sides in Sweden.
The remarks are a “renunciation of the Hodeidah agreement and a declaration of war,” Badi said, urging the UN to step up pressure on the rebels to prevent another “explosion of the situation” in Hodeidah. Otherwise, renewed fighting is just a “few days” away, he added.