Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Alain Goma, a French national held by Houthi rebels in Yemen for more than four months after his boat had problems near the Port of Hodeidah has been released, French officials said Tuesday.
Goma, 54, was sailing when damage to his boat forced him to dock at the port. The port has been controlled by the Houthi rebels since March 2015, which has been fighting the Saudi Arabia-backed Yemeni government forces for control of the country since 2014.
After talks between the French envoy to Yemen and Houthi leaders in Sanaa, Yemen, Goma was released. French President Emmanuel Macron gave thanks to those who helped release Goma, who is expected to return to France.
Yemen security officials said Goma had been locked in a Sanaa prison when he was released by the rebels.
The rebels initially took control over a large swath of the country before Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies started a large air campaign against the Houthis to turn back their advances, the Middle East Monitor reported.
Saudi Arabia accused the Houthis of serving on behalf of Iran and peace talk efforts hosted by Kuwait failed to broker a deal.
The continued fighting has destroyed most of Yemen's infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems.
The United Nations' humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, said the country is on the verge of the world's worst famine in 100 years because of the long-running war.
"I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that is was unthinkable that we could see a famine like saw in Ethiopia, that we saw in Bengal, that we saw in parts of the Soviet Union, that was just unacceptable," Grande told The Independent.
"Many of us had the confidence that that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at," she added.