October 31, 2015 / 1:57 PM / 4 years ago

United Nations says two contractors detained in Yemen

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Saturday two contractors with the world body had been detained in Yemen, but gave no further details on the incident.

“Two contractors have been detained and DSS (Department of Safety and Security) is looking into it,” a U.N. spokesman said without elaborating or confirming if the two were American citizens.

A U.S. State Department official said it was aware of reports that two U.S. citizens had been detained at Sanaa airport in Yemen.

“The protection of U.S. citizens overseas is one of the Department of State’s highest priorities, including in these cases,” the official said in an email. “Due to privacy considerations, we do not have any further information to share.”

A Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March to try to restore the government after it was toppled by Iran-allied Houthi forces, but a mounting civilian death toll and dire humanitarian situation has alarmed human rights groups.

The United Nations has designated Yemen as one of its highest-level humanitarian crises, alongside emergencies in South Sudan, Syria and Iraq. It says more than 21 million people in Yemen need help, or about 80 percent of the population.

(U.N. corrects source of information in second paragraph)

Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Digby Lidstone

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