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Houthis demand end to war in Gaza for 17 Filipino hostages' release: diplomat


Houthis demand end to war in Gaza for 17 Filipino hostages' release: diplomat

A Philippine diplomat said Tuesday that negotiations continue for the release of 17 Filipino sailors taken hostage by Yemen's Houthi group last year, with the outfit insisting on "an end to the war in Gaza" as a precondition for their release.

"The Houthis are consistent in their statement that it would need an end to the war in Gaza before they release the ship or the seafarers," Philippine Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega told a press conference at the presidential palace.

De Vega said the seafarers are safe and can communicate with their families, although not in the best condition.

"At the very least, one thing we're always in touch with the Houthis about is to ensure that they are treated well and that they are able to contact their families," de Vega said.

The Philippines is among the biggest suppliers of maritime labor in the world, providing almost one-fifth of seafarers worldwide, according to the International Labor Organization.

The 17 Filipino seafarers were among the crew members of a cargo vessel taken hostage by the Houthis in the Red Sea in November last year.

At the same news conference, de Vega said that 11 of the 13 sailors who survived another attack against a cargo vessel by the Houthis will return to Manila on Tuesday night, while the remaining two will come home via an air ambulance in the next few days.

Last week, the cargo ship True Confidence was hit by several anti-ship ballistic missiles some 50 nautical miles southwest of Aden port, off southern Yemen. Two Filipinos were killed in the attack.

(With input from Xinhua)

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