Sunday, April 5, 2015

Air strikes in Yemen continue in spite of urgent calls for humanitarian ceasefire

Gravediggers at work in the village of Bani Matar, west of  Sanaa. In this village 9 civilians including six children were killed by air strikes of the Saudi led coalition. (Photo AFP)

Saudi-led air strikes against Houthi rebel targets have continued unabated in Yemen, hours after the Red Cross called for a 24-hour ceasefire to give aid workers a chance to address the growing crisis in the country. Fighting between rebels and forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi for control of the southern city of Aden also continued on Saturday. The UN says more than 500 people have been killed in the past two weeks and nearly 1,700 wounded. Residents in Aden say parts of the southern port city have been without water or electricity for two days.
The aerial bombardments reportedly focused on the capital Sanaa. Hisham al-Omeisy, a youth activist based in Sanaa, told Al Jazeera that the air strikes on Saturday were the heaviest he had witnessed since they began 10 days ago."To make matters worse, the targets are not just the military bases in the capital, they are also political bureaus of the Houthis around the city" in residential areas, Omeisy said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Saturday that there was an urgent need for fighting to halt in the worst-affected areas, including Sanaa and Aden. A spokeswoman said that the organisation was finding it hard to bring in medical supplies. "The humanitarian situation is extremely difficult and is getting more difficult by the day," she said. She added that many wounded people were not getting medical supplies and that "hospitals are overwhelmed".
Russia on Saturday presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council calling for a pause in the Saudi-led air campaign to allow the evacuation of foreigners and rapid, safe and unhindered access to allow humanitarian assistance to reach people in need.
The Houthis swept into Sanaa last September and forced Hadi to flee his presidential palace for Aden, where he has a power base. A Saudi-led coalition seeking to reinstate Hadi began bombing Houthi positions on March 26 and its planes have been dropping weapons to forces loyal to the president.
Saudi Arabian Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asiri, a spokesman for the Arab coalition, told a news conference that aid "will come when we are able to set the conditions [so] that this aid will benefit the population". He said the coalition requires that aid delivery does not interfere with the military operation, that aid workers are not put at risk, and that supplies do not fall into the wrong hands. "We don't want to supply the militias," Asiri said.
The coalition bombing Houthi positions involves five members of the Gulf Cooperation Council - Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Oman, another member of the GCC, is not part of the coalition. Other countries that have pledged support include Egypt, Jordan, and Sudan.

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