UN sanctions top Houthi police official in Yemen's capital

The U.N. Security Council has imposed sanctions on a top police security official in Yemen’s capital, which is controlled by Houthi rebels

UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions Thursday on a top police security official in Yemen's capital, which is controlled by Houthi rebels, citing his prominent role in intimidations, systematic arrests, detentions, torture, sexual violence “and rape against politically active women.”

A resolution adopted by a vote of 14-0 with Russia abstaining said Sultan Saleh Aida Aida Zabin, director of the Criminal Investigation Department in the capital Sanaa, is directly or by virtue of his authority responsible for using multiple places of detention including police stations, prisons and detention centers for human rights abuses.

“In these sites, women, including at least one minor, were forcibly disappeared, repeatedly interrogated, raped, tortured, denied timely medical treatment and subjected to forced labor,” the council said. “Zabin himself directly inflicted torture in some cases.”

The council said in imposing a travel ban and arms embargo on Zabin that he “engaged in acts that threaten the peace, security and stability of Yemen, including violations of applicable international humanitarian law and human rights abuses in Yemen.”

The resolution extended the mandate of the panel of experts monitoring the implementation of sanctions in Yemen until March 28, 2022.

The devastating conflict in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, erupted in 2014 when Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized Sanaa and much of the country’s north. That prompted a U.S.-backed Arab military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to intervene months later in a bid to restore the government of Yemeni President Abed Rabu Mansour Hadi to power.

The conflict has killed some 130,000 people and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

The Security Council strongly condemned the ongoing escalation of violence in Yemen's oil-rich central province of Marib between Houthi and government forces, and the continuation of Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia.

The resolution stressed the need “for de-escalation across Yemen and a nationwide cease-fire.”

It expressed “serious concern at the devastating humanitarian situation in Yemen, including the growing risk of large-scale famine and the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warned the council Wednesday that Yemen “is falling off a cliff” and will face the worst famine the world has seen for decades unless donors, and especially its Gulf neighbors, contribute generously to this year’s U.N. humanitarian appeal for $3.85 billion.