SANAA

Yemen’s Houthi rebel group has banned and criminalized using WhatsApp application in the southwestern Ibb province which is under its control.

This came in a statement late Thursday by the governorate of Ibb, according to local media.

The statement said that “anyone who uses the WhatsApp application will be arrested” and having the application will be considered “an indecent offense.”

“This application has become the biggest disease in the Islamic world through which illegal relationships are built which must be included among the acts that violate morality,” the statement said.

Houthi Prosecution also ordered the “formation of female teams to inspect and control phones and carry out campaigns in phone stores while giving citizens a week until the decision reaches them.”

Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis, including civilians, are believed to have been killed in the conflict, which has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as millions remain at risk of starvation.

*Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara

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