UN urges Yemen's Houthis to release staff members The two staff members of UNESCO and UN Human Rights were detained early in November in Sanaa.

"The UN has not received information about the grounds or legal basis for their detention, or their current status," UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay said. (Reuters)

Yemen's Houthi movement has detained two staff members of UNESCO and UN Human Rights since early November.

UN bodies called in a joint statement on Tuesday for the immediate release of the detained staff members without giving details on the two individuals.

Yemeni government officials told Reuters news agency they were Yemeni staff who had previously worked for the US embassy in Sanaa.

"The UN has not received information about the grounds or legal basis for their detention, or their current status," UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said.

The United States said in November that the Houthis, the de facto authority in North Yemen, had detained several Yemeni employees at the US embassy compound in the capital, Sanaa, without disclosing how many.

READ MORE: Why the Houthis stormed the US embassy in Yemen

"Abandoning" local staff

The embassy has been closed since 2015 after the Houthis ousted the internationally recognised government from Sanaa in late 2014. The mission has since operated out of Saudi Arabia.

The State Department has called on the movement to release immediately, unharmed, all Yemeni employees of the United States, vacate the embassy compound and return seized property.

Houthi officials have not commented on the detentions.

The head of the group's supreme revolutionary committee has criticised the United States for "abandoning" local staff.

The Iran-aligned Houthi movement has been battling a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia for more than six years.

READ MORE: Houthis admit to losing nearly 15,000 fighters since mid-June

Source: Reuters