Attack on civilian ship is in clear violation of int'l charters and threatens freedom of navigation: UAE Foreign Ministry

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ABU DHABI, 4th October, 2016 (WAM) --- The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has stressed that the civilian ship (Swift) which was targeted by the Houthi and Saleh militias off the coast of Mocha, Yemen, was carrying assistance, wounded Yemenis and passengers.

In a statement issued today, the ministry said that the ship, which is unarmed and has no military protection, is passing through the Bab al Mandab Strait like any other civilian and commercial ships. It has been conducting routine trips to Aden for one year and that all its crew members are civilians.

The statement said that the civilian ship is owned by the UAE National Marine Dredging Company and does not have any military capacity, a fact which is confirmed by the vessel s inability to counter the attack it came under during an international sea voyage governed by the norms and charters that ensure the freedom of navigation in international waters.

The ministry went on to affirm that the attack on the civilian ship will have serious repercussions on the freedom of navigation if the Houthi-Saleh militias continue to pursue maritime piracy tactics and carry out attacks on civilian ships dedicated to transporting aid and injured people with the aim of exacerbating the suffering of the Yemeni people and using this as a card to play to make fake gains even at the expense of their compatriots.

The ministry's statement revealed that the crew of the ship comprises 24 civilians of six nationalities: 10 Indians, seven Ukrainians, four Egyptians, and three from Jordan, the Philippines and Lithuania. Those who injured in the heinous attack are receiving medical treatment in the UAE.

''In more than a year of operating routine journeys to Aden, the civilian ship has carried thousands of tonnes of humanitarian assistance and more than 1,000 wounded people, along with their companions, in addition to large equipment for the electricity, water and healthcare sectors which had significantly eased the suffering of the residents of Aden through the restoration of the infrastructure in these vital sectors,'' the statement explained.

The ministry stressed that the Houthi-Saleh militias know very well that the civilian ship was dedicated for humanitarian missions and that it had not conducted any military missions in Yemen, which affirms that these militias ignore all international norms and charters that were agreed upon for wars and international conflicts.

The statement said: "While the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Yemen is working to launch a new round of negotiations and the reiteration of the Arab Coalition that a peaceful settlement is its best choice, the Houthi-Saleh militias are working to undermine peace efforts and insist on disregarding all efforts being exerted. This affirms that peace is not a choice for the Houthis and Saleh and that the course of military conflict is the agenda that these militias believe in."

In light of this dangerous escalation, the ministry views with appreciation all international reactions and statements of condemnation against this threat. These statements warned the rebels not to pursue their attempts to undermine international peace efforts.

The ministry urges the international community to condemn these dangerous practices which violate international laws and charters, especially the coup militias are pursuing a policy of blocking aid, siege and starving the Yemeni people in many cities as a military tool to break the will of the people of Yemen, without taking into consideration the suffering that Yemenis, children and women in particular, are going through.

WAM/Moran WAM/Moran/MMYS/tfaham WAM 0055 2016/10/05 END