Yemen civilian death toll mounts, as families flee Saudi-led air strikes
|21/04/2019||Posted by admin under 南京夜网||
Fire is seen at a military site after it was hit by an air strike on the Faj Attan mountain of Sanaa on Saturday. Photo: Reuters/Mohamed al-Sayaghi People rally against the war in Yemen, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Monday. Pakistan sent a plane on Sunday to the Yemeni city of Hodeida to try to evacuate some of its 3000 citizens living in Yemen. Photo: BK Bangash
Yemen ports under blockade as Saudis vow to intensify air strikesSaudi coalition forces pound Yemen rebels for a fifth night
Beirut: Five days into the Saudi Arabia-led aerial bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, the civilian death toll is mounting and hundreds of families are on the run, fleeing the nightly attacks that have shaken the already struggling country.
At least 40 people were killed on Monday and 200 wounded when an air strike hit al-Mazraq Camp for displaced people the country’s north, International Organisation for Migration spokesman Joel Millman said.
It appears the target was a nearby base for the Iran-backed Zaidi Shiite Houthi rebels, who have controlled much of northern Yemen since September.
Home to about 5000 people who had fled the capital Sanaa after years of fighting between Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government, al-Mazraq Camp, established in 2001, provides shelter to some of Yemen’s most vulnerable people, many of them malnourished and in desperate need of help.
There was no immediate response from Saudi Arabia to the deaths, or from the other countries involved in the air strikes aimed at forcing the Houthi rebels to hand back power to President Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi – United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, Morocco and Sudan.
Yemen’s state news agency Saba, which is under the control of the Houthis, said the camp at Haradh was hit by Saudi planes. It said the dead included women and children, and showed the bodies of five children laid out on a blood-streaked floor.
A Saudi military spokesman said the kingdom was seeking clarification on the incident.
“It could have been that the fighter jets replied to fire, and we cannot confirm that it was a refugee camp,” Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri said. “We will ask the Yemeni official agencies to confirm that.”
Mr Hadi’s foreign minister, Riyadh Yassin, earlier blamed Houthi artillery for the explosion. Pakistan and Egypt are reportedly providing naval support while the United States is understood to be providing intelligence to the Saudi-led coalition.
President Hadi escaped from Sanaa to the southern port city of Aden earlier this month and last week fled to the Saudi capital Riyadh, calling for military intervention to help end the crisis in his country.
At least 300 families – or about 1500 people – have been forced to flee the city of Hawta, the capital of Lahej Governorate in Yemen’s south, a humanitarian worker based in Aden told Fairfax Media.
Stressing the numbers of displaced were only preliminary and were sure to rise, the aid worker, who asked not to be named, said they were from three villages – al-Waht, al-Majahfa and Thaalab.
There were “severe food shortages and water scarcity”, he said, while the central hospital in Hawta had closed, preventing malnourished children and their families from accessing food and treatment.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have already detailed dozens of civilian deaths since the air strikes began on March 26, calling on both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi rebels to protect civilians from attack.
The rising death toll comes the day after Arab leaders threw their support behind the Saudi-led coalition and agreed to the formation of a joint Arab military force to deal with some of the conflicts tearing apart the region.
Egyptian officials say the proposed Arab force would be made up of 40,000 elite troops and backed by jets, warships and light armour, but the next set of discussions over the formation of the force are not scheduled for another month.
In the meantime, the Yemen is at war and with both al-Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates joining the fight in the south, its instability is threatening a region already in crisis, the International Crisis Group warned in its latest briefing.
Divided between the Houthi movement, which controls the north and is rapidly advancing south and the anti-Houthi coalition, Yemen’s situation is “rapidly worsening”.
“The external intervention is aggravating the potential for protracted violence,” the group said.
“Unless this deterioration is halted, the result is likely to be a war similar to those decimating other Arab countries.”
The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs says minors appear to be taking part in hostilities on all sides.
A devastating editorial from the Yemen Observer noted the there were an “estimated 320,000 combatants spread across 11 factions in Yemen and all are preparing for war”.
“The majority of these combatants are young people between the ages of 15 and 24,” the editorial said. “They are underfed, underequipped, and undertrained youngsters who have little knowledge of where this is heading.”
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