Christians in Yemen have requested our prayers following the kidnapping on Friday of nine foreigners, including three children. Yesterday (i.e. Monday 15th) it was confirmed that three of them have been murdered. There are reports that others have also been killed, though these reports are unconfirmed. Of the nine who were kidnapped, seven are German, one British and one South Korean. The three confirmed as killed are two German ladies, Anita (aged 24) and Rita, (25), and the South Korean lady, Young-Sun (34).
Kidnapping foreigners has been common in parts of Yemen in recent years, though the usual pattern is that the hostages are released unharmed. This latest incident occurred in the northern province of Saada where there has been unrest for several years. The fifth war between the Houthi rebels and the government ended with a signed peace agreement with the government in July 2008. Generally the agreement has been kept by both parties, but violence has continued on a small scale in pockets. The Yemeni Government has accused the Houthi rebels of carrying out the abductions and murders, while other analysts consider that al-Qaeda may have been responsible. No group has yet claimed responsibility and the Houthi rebels have denied involvement.
Recently there have been increasing protests in southern provinces of Yemen, some of which have become violent. These are generally motivated by a feeling that the federal government in Sana'a is not giving some them a fair share of national resources. In view of these developments many expatriate Christians working in Yemen have been reviewing their security arrangements.
One new concern amongst expatriate Christians is that the murder of the South Korean might lead the Korean government to change the status of their current warning against travel to Yemen from 'advisory' to 'binding', effectively making it a closed country for South Korean nationals. (This currently applies to travel to Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia). This would force the significant number of Koreans working in Yemen to leave, which would have an impact on several Christian ministries.
Expatriate Christians in Yemen request our prayers that:
a. The families and colleagues of Anita, Rita and Young-Sun will know the comfort of Jesus
b. The perpetrators will be convicted by the Spirit and drawn to the forgiveness, love and true life offered by Jesus
c. All expatriate Christians in Yemen will know the Lord's guiding and protecting at this time
d. The South Korean government will not prevent its citizens from working in Yemen
(c) Middle East Concern