Oslo, Norway: Following a relief aid distribution on the 14th of February in Al Hudaydah, Yemen, local authorities detained six Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) national staff and a contracted driver.
The detention seems to be based on the fact that when the NRC staff opened the hygiene kit boxes at the distribution, they came to learn that the boxes which had no markings on the outside, had a text written on the inside of the boxes which said “The campaign of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for emergency response.” The boxes were dated January 2015, before the conflict escalated in March 2015, and the boxes were originally used for food. The boxes had been reused by the contracted vender as hygiene kits packaging. Recycling like this is common in the country.
NRC does not take any funding from sources in Saudi Arabia due to the nature of the specific context and conflict. NRC is neutral and impartial and does not take sides.
NRC takes this issue extremely seriously, and we are currently investigating the matter.
"Our highest priorities now are to safeguard the safety and security of our staff, and investigate this matter fully. We are in contact with the local authorities, and we request that the authorities guarantee the safety, security and well-being of our staff in Al-Hudaydah, which has been assured.
We reiterate that NRC is a neutral organisation and does not have any Saudi funded projects in Yemen," said NRC Head of Communications, Tuva Raanes Bogsnes.
Due to the safety and security of our staff, we cannot comment any further on this matter at this time.