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DFA: 17 Filipinos seafarers held hostage by Yemen's Houthi rebels

DFA: 17 Filipinos seafarers held hostage by Yemen's Houthi rebels
Gaea Katreena Cabico - November 22, 2023

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 4:40 p.m.) — Seventeen Filipino seafarers were among the individuals taken hostage after Yemen’s Houthi rebels seized an Israeli-linked cargo ship in the Red Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.

Houthi rebels captured the cargo vessel Galaxy Leader and held hostage its 25 international crew, including 17 Filipinos, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said in an interview with GMA News.

De Vega said the government is concerned because the incident is connected to Israel's war against Hamas.

The Iran-backed Houthi fighters said the capture was in retaliation for the Israel-Hamas war. The Bahamas-flagged, British-owned Galaxy Leader is operated by a Japanese firm but has links to Israeli businessman Abraham "Rami" Ungar.

“What reached us is that no harm will be done to the foreign crew members,” De Vega said in Filipino, adding the agency will hold a meeting with government agencies such as the Department of Migrant Workers, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and Maritime Industry Authority.

In a statement, the DMW said it has communicated with and assured the families of the seafarers of the government’s support and assistance.

The United States said Tuesday it was considering designating Houthi rebels a terrorist organization after their seizure of the cargo vessel. It also called on the rebels to release the ship and its crew immediately. — with report from Agence France-Presse