United Nations: The UN aid chief on Tuesday accused Yemen’s Al Houthi militia of blocking and diverting deliveries of aid to the country’s third city of Taiz where some 200,000 people are living under siege.
Government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition have been battling since September to push Al Houthis out of Taiz as part of their campaign to recapture the capital Sana’a farther north.
“Al Houthi and popular committees are blocking supply routes and continue to obstruct the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian aid and supplies into Taiz city,” said Stephen O’Brien, the under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs.
“Despite repeated attempts by UN agencies and our humanitarian partners to negotiate access and reach people, our trucks have remained stuck at checkpoints and only very limited assistance has been allowed in,” he added.
O’Brien said it was “unacceptable” that some of the aid destined for the city’s needy was being diverted away from those people.
“This is unacceptable. I call on all parties to work with the United Nations and other neutral and impartial organisations to urgently facilitate the delivery of life-saving assistance and protection to civilians and the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian workers to Taiz City, without further delay,” he said.
Some 200,000 people are in need of drinking water, food, medical treatment and other life-saving assistance in Taiz, a “deeply concerned” O’Brien said.
The Yemeni government-run sabanew.net news agency said Hadi, who is now in the southern port city of Aden, toured the frontline on Tuesday and visited the Al Anad base, where Yemeni government forces and Arab allies are stationed.
O’Brien said hospitals which are still functioning in Taiz, one of the biggest cities in Yemen, were overwhelmed with wounded patients and faced severe shortages of doctors and nurses, essential medicines and fuel.
Sky News Arabia reported that a Al Houthi militia leader was killed in a coalition air strike in Taiz on Wednesday. Abdul Wase’ Al Soufi and an aide were killed in a strike targeting his vehicle the Al Hojla district north of the city. It also reported that that coalition struck the Al Houthis and forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Al Sarari of Jabal Sabar in the south of the city, as well as Jabal Al Tamar in the city of Moze’ west of Taiz.
The Saudi-led coalition launched an air campaign in March in response to the Al Houthi takeover of the country and in an attempt to push back the advance by the Iran-backed militia.
More than 5,700 people have been killed in the fighting while 82 per cent of the population — 21 million people — are in urgent need of aid.
UN envoy Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad has been holding talks for weeks with all sides to try to launch peace talks, but no date has been set for the negotiations.
— with inputs from AFP and Reuters