UN humanitarian aid office says 40,000 people also injured in the conflict while 10 million need ‘urgent assistance’.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has backed Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in rejecting the formation of a transitional political council in southern Yemen, saying that calls for the separation of southern Yemen should be ignored.
Aden’s former governor Major General Aidarous al-Zubaidi, who was dismissed from his post by Hadi last week, announced the council’s formation after thousands of southern Yemenis demonstrated their support following his sacking.
Hadi’s government considered the formation of the council an act that “targets the country’s interests, its future and social fabric”.
Following the formation of the separatist council, al-Zubaidi left Aden for Saudi Arabia on Friday at the invitation of Saudi officials, according to Yemeni officials.
“This is the first time we have seen a utilisation of these massive rallies to form a body that represents southerners,” Bashraheel Hisham Bashraheel, Deputy Editor of Al-Ayyam newspaper in Aden, told Al Jazeera.
“What’s significant this time is that this council has representatives from all the southern provinces without exception.”
The new council could be seen as an attempt to strengthen decades-old calls for the secession of Yemen’s southern region.
Yemen was once two countries until 1990 when the north and south united. Since then, southern Yemenis have felt marginalised, particularly by former president Ali Abdallah Saleh, who is now allied with Houthi rebels that control much of the north.
Hadi’s government, backed by a GCC-led coalition of Arab countries and their western allies, has struggled to control southern Yemen while also fighting off Houthi rebel advances in the north.
Speaking of the mood in Aden, Bashraheel said, “there is great hope that this [transitional] council will represent the will of the southerners in any negotiation in the future”.
“Until now we don’t have a clear idea what the effect of this council will be on the day-to-day affairs of the people,” Bashraheel said.
“It remains to be seen how this council will interact with the Hadi government, as well as what agenda it will have with regards to pursuing southern Yemenis’ interests.”