Al Mukalla: International humanitarian organisations working in Yemen have begun evacuating their workers from Al Houthi-held Sana’a amid increasing crackdown against supporters of assassinated former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Saudi-led coalition said on Saturday night.
The coalition said that the organisations have informed them about their intention to leave Al Houthi-controlled territories as they have failed to protect their offices.
In a statement carried by Saudi media, the coalition said that the Al Houthi militia has failed to provide security to aid workers as they are required to do in wartime under international law.
Security sharply deteriorated in Sana’a earlier this month when Al Houthis brutally killed Saleh who led a military uprising against them in the capital. After repressing the brief uprising, the rebels mounted a sweeping crackdown targeting military and civilian supporters and relatives of Saleh.
Fearing escalation of violence in Sana’a, Russia closed its embassy and relocated staff to the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Almost all foreign envoys and delegations have subsequently left Sana’a since the early days of Al Houthi coup against the internationally-recognised president in 2015.
Iran is the only country that has a functioning embassy in Sana’a.
Yemen’s government has repeated previous calls to international aid organisations to move their offices to the southern city of Aden pledging to protect their workers.
Abdul Raqeeb Fateh, the minister of local administration and the head of the Supreme Relief Committee, says that Al Houthis have harassed international aid workers by meddling in their work and obstructing distribution of relief goods inside their territories.
According to the state-run Saba news agency, Fateh said that the number of displaced people from Al Houthi areas have increased as the militants hunt for supporters of Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Meanwhile, on the ground, Yemen’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday that as many as 70 Al Houthis have been killed in fighting with government forces or by Saudi-led coalition air strikes on the Red Sea front in the last couple of days as the militants struggle to fight off a raging offensive.
Dozens of bodies of the militants have been taken to local hospitals in Hodeida and Hajja provinces.
Local commanders have said that fighter jets from the Saudi-led coalition have prevented Al Houthis from reinforcing their depleting forces in Hodeida province by targeting dozens of vehicles that were carrying fighters and heading to the battlefield north of Hodeida’s Khokha region and other areas.
Government and military advisers from the coalition are currently battling Al Houthis almost 95 kilometres south of Hodeida city, the last major coastal area under Al Houthi control.
Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi came to power in early 2012 after massive Arab Spring protests ousted Ali Abdullah Saleh who ruled Yemen for more than 30 years.
He was forced to flee to Aden after escaping Al Houthi-imposed house arrest in 2014.
Since then, Hadi has led an offensive to liberate Al Houthi-occupied territories. With help from the Saudi-led Arab coalition, it has achieved widespread gains in many provinces, but Al Houthis still control the capital Sana’a and most northern provinces including Hodeida, Ibb, Mahweet, Yareem, Amran, Baydha and Hajja.