Last Updated: November 21, 2023, 14:47 IST
New York, United States of America (USA)
The UN Secretary-General is deeply concerned by reports of the seizure of a vessel by the Houthis in the Red Sea, reportedly en route to India, according to his spokesperson. This comes after a British-owned and Japanese-operated ship named “Galaxy Leader” was seized near Hodeida, Yemen, while sailing for India, according to the vessel’s operator, NYK Line.
The vehicle carrier had 25 crew members who were taken hostage by Yemen’s Houthi rebels last week. In a press release, the NYK said that it “organised a crisis management centre at its head office to gather information and manage this incident”. “As the vessel’s charterer, we are prioritising the safety of the 25 crew members,” the NYK said.
“I was asked about the incident that took place in the Red Sea concerning the ship, and I can tell you that while the circumstances around the incident remain unclear, we are following with deep concern reports of the seizure by the Houthis of a vessel flying the flag of the Bahamas in the Red Sea and reportedly en route between Turkiye and India,” Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said at the daily press briefing on Monday.
“We reaffirm the importance of ensuring that international law is respected in full in relation to maritime navigation, freedom of navigation,” Dujarric said, adding that the UN urges all concerned parties and countries in the region to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from taking any escalatory actions.
Houthi rebels from Yemen were seen storming a cargo ship in the Red Sea, in a video released by the Iran-backed group. The Houthis claim the ship has links to Israel, who deny the charge and say the seized ship was British-owned and Japanese-operated https://t.co/iywbKftAP6 pic.twitter.com/ifssojhOSZ— Reuters (@Reuters) November 21, 2023
On Monday, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis released video footage showing armed men dropping from a helicopter and seizing a cargo ship in the southern Red Sea. The United States denounced the ship’s seizure as a breach of international law and demanded the immediate release of the vessels and its crew.
“The Houthi seizure of the motor vessel Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea is a flagrant violation of international law,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told a briefing. “We demand the immediate release of the ship and its crew and we will consult with our allies and UN partners as to appropriate next steps.” The Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader’s crew is made up of nationals from Bulgaria, Ukraine, the Philippines, Mexico and Romania, Galaxy Maritime said. The vessel is chartered by Japan’s Nippon Yusen.
“Owners and managers believe the seizure of this vessel represents a gross violation of freedom of passage for the world fleet and a serious threat to international trade,” Galaxy Maritime said. It added that the “key concern at this time is the safety and security of the 25 crew members currently being held by the perpetrators of this criminal act”.
Earlier on Sunday the Houthis said all ships owned or operated by Israeli companies, or carrying the Israeli flag could be targeted. Huthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said in a statement on X, that their “military forces will continue to carry out military operations against the Israeli enemy until the aggression against Gaza stops and the ugly crimes… against our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and the West Bank stop.”
(With agency inputs)