THE head of the Houthi-Yemeni naval forces has inspected the 25 crew, including 17 Filipinos, of seized Japanese car carrier Galaxy Leader who were held while passing through the Red Sea last Monday.
According to Yemen’s state media, Major General Muhammad Fadl Abdulnabi spoke with the crew and assured them that they are “guests” of Yemen.
A new video posted on the website of Houthi showed General Abdulnabi shaking hands with the crew.
The faces of the crew were blurred.
Speaking through an interpreter, General Abdulnabi said:
“You are here in Yemen. You are our guests here in Yemen, and Navy.
“We consider all the crew as Yemeni people.
“Don’t worry about everything. Anything you want, we will bring it.”
“You can consider Yemen as your country.”
Aside from the 17 Filipinos, the nationalities of the rest of the crew are Bulgarians, Romanian, Ukrainian and Mexican.
In Arabic, the Houthi naval chief insisted that Galaxy Leader is an Israel ship and they seized it as part of its military operations against Israel for its aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip.
He then warned ships and merchant companies against passing through the Red Sea using ships owned by Israeli companies, saying that any Israel-owned ships are “legitimate” target of the Yemeni naval forces.
However, according to Marine Traffic, Galaxy Leader is owned by Galaxy Maritime Ltd. Isle from Isle of Man, insured in the United Kingdom, managed by Greece, flag of convenience is Bahamas, and operated by Japanese company.
Yemen is in a civil war since 2014 when Houthi forces took control over the capital Sanaa and its government. It is believed back by Iran.
The rival government is based in Adan, and claims to be the legitimate government. Saudi Arabia, the United States and other Gulf countries support this government.
The Philippines is accredited by the Adan-based government.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said the Philippine government is working with governments and the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movement to speak with the Houthi-Yemeni government.
He said he is on “guarded optimism” that the 17 Filipino crew will be released by the end of November, or at the very least before Christmas.
“We haven’t been asked for ransom or anything like that so we believe they just wanted to send a message and we know that our crewmen and other crewmen are not guilty of anything that they are fighting about.
“They’re just seafarers doing their jobs. The (Houthi) rebels seem to recognize that and we’re working hard so we’ll see what happens,” de Vega said.