Clashes rage in Yemeni south as aid trickles into Sanaa
Deaths reported in Aden, as aid arrives in Sanaa despite the continuation of the Saudi-led bombardment of the capital.
Over two dozen fighters and civilians were killed during clashes between Houthi rebels and gunmen loyal to President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Aden, as the Saudi-led coalition intensified its air strikes in and around Yemen’s capital Sanaa.
The Saudi-led coalition said that it is targeting suspected weapons storage sites used by the Houthis. Aid agencies reported on Saturday that more deliveries of medical equipment, desperately needed by civilians living in the capital, had been made.
The air raids, which hit the Defence Ministry and facilities including al-Hafa military camp, lasted for several hours, Sanaa residents told the Reuters news agency.
The Republican Guard was also targeted in the 16th straight day of coalition air strikes on the country.
The strikes came after fierce clashes in Aden killed at least 25 people, Agence France-Presse news agency reported.
Despite the fighting, planes carrying medical aid have finally been able to land for the first time since the air strikes began over two weeks ago.
“The new cargo is 35.6 tonnes, of which 32 tonnes is medical aid and the rest water purifying equipment, electric power generators and tents,” said Marie Claire Feghali, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The Red Cross and the UN also sent planes to Sanaa on Friday, each carrying 16 tonnes of medicine and equipment, the first aid supplies to reach the capital since the Saudi-led campaign was launched 16 days earlier.
“The situation is not easy for the health workers and doctors,” Feghali told Al Jazeera, adding that at least three medical volunteers were killed in recent days while trying to retrieve those who were injured.
Meanwhile, Julien Harneis, a UNICEF representative in Yemen, told Al Jazeera he expects an “upsurge in malnutrition across the country” in the coming weeks.
“It was already a country where 60 percent of the country was living under the poverty line, that’s not going to get any better,” he said.
More than two weeks of heavy bombardment and fighting between rival armed groups, which has resulted in 650 people killed and 100,000 Yemenis displaced, has prompted the UN to call for a freeze in the violence.
UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Johannes Van Der Klaauw, said an “immediate humanitarian pause in this conflict” was desperately needed to step up aid deliveries.
“The situation in Aden is extremely, extremely preoccupying if not catastrophic,” he said, warning that the southern port city had fallen prey to “urban warfare” and “uncontrollable militias”.
Saudi Arabia’s UN ambassador, meanwhile, said a vote on a draft UN resolution, which would impose new sanctions on leaders of the Houthis and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his son, is likely to take place early next week.
Supporters of the resolution say it is aimed at ending the Houthis’ alleged attempt to take over the Arabian Peninsula country.