As the Saudi-headed bombing against Yemen’s Shiite Houthi group continues on Saturday for the 10th day, another major humanitarian catastrophy is in the making.
The 10-nation coalition dropped more bombs against Houthi targets in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden, the last stronghold of the supporters of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is now sheltering in the oil-rich Gulf monarch after being force to flee the country.
The air campaign and naval bombardment were launched to discourage Houthi fighters’ attempt to overrun the port city, and to restore Hadi’s rule in the country.
According to media report, at least 13 rebel fighters were killed during the Saturday’s offensive.
Meanwhile, the coalition airdropped weapons and ammunition supplies for the second consecutive day to pro-Hadi fighters in Aden city.
Inside Aden, fighters still loyal to Hadi were reported to have managed to drive the Houthi militants away from several central part of the city, including Hadi’s presidential compound.
Al-Kheder Lassouar, Aden’s health department head, said at least 185 were killed, and 1,282 others were wounded in the clashes since the start of the Saudi-championed Operation Decisive Storm, adding that three-quarters were civilians.
He also mentioned that the death toll does not include casualties among the Houthi fighters and other militants they allied with.
Russia proposed a draft resolution at the United Nations, and called on the coalition to suspend their air raids so as to allow the evacuation of foreign civilians and diplomats. Moscow also urged rapid and unhindered humanitarian access.
Also on Saturday, the UN Security Council expressed its concerns over the humanitarian situation in Yemen, and said it is working on the Russia-backed draft resolution.
Jordan’s UN ambassador, Dina Kawar, who is also the rotating president of the 15-member council, told reporters that the council members would continue to discuss the Yemeni crisis with the Gulf Cooperation Council nations over the weekend.
“And we hope that we can by Monday come up with something,” she said at the end of an emergency council meeting, convened at the request of Russia.
During the emergency consultations, members reaffirmed support of the council’s earlier resolutions on Yemen and “reiterated their concern over the grave humanitarian situation that Yemen has been facing for a while,” she said.
According to the UN, more than 500 people were killed in the last two weeks in Yemen, while almost 1,700 were wounded.
The International Committee of the Red Cross also appealed for an immediate pause in the deadly conflict in Yemen so that medical supplies could be delivered inside the war-zone.
In a statement, the Red Cross said three of its shipments remained blocked, and urged that all routes, including air, land and sea, should be opened without delay for at least 24 hours to “enable help to reach people cut off after more than a week of intense air strikes and fierce ground fighting nationwide.”
However, Saudi Arabia later denied that it has imposed hinders on the Red Cross flights to provide rescue and humanitarian aids to Yemen, saying that the flights will take off on Sunday.
On the grounds, part of the residents in southern Aden city have been without power and water for two days. Also, medicines and hospital beds are running out.
CAIRO VOWS TO GUARD GULF STATES
As the fighting in Yemen could see no end in sight, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi vowed on Saturday to provide protection to the Gulf states when required, official MENA news agency reported.
“Egypt will not give up its brothers in the Gulf region and we will protect them if necessary,” the Egyptian president said following a meeting with the country’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
The Yemeni crisis raises fears that the Houthis, widely perceived to be backed by Iran, may seize the nearby Bab al-Mandab Strait and pose a threat to the national security of the surrounding Gulf States. However, Tehran denies that it is arming the Shiite militants.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia have also deployed their warships at the strait that represents the only access to Egypt’s Suez Canal from the southern Arabian Sea and is vital for trade between Europe and Asia.
“Bab al-Mandab Strait is a matter of Egyptian and Arab national security,” President Sisi said in his statement, stressing that the unity among Arab nations is necessary to protect their national security.
The Egyptian leader added that they are working within “a political framework” that is meant to avoid losses for any of the concerned parties.
RIYADH URGES EVACUATION
In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia urged on Saturday countries to evacuate their nationals from Yemen, and the coalition can help with the pull-out, Al Eqtisadiya reported.
Brigadier Ahmed Asiri, a military spokesperson, told a daily press conference that those who have yet to evacuate their nationals can use the help of the coalition.
He said a committee has been formed to speed up the evacuation of foreigners from Yemen and to respond to humanitarian emergencies.
Algeria said on Saturday that it has evacuated its nationals and other foreigners who fled the violence-ridden Yemen, local media reported.
The state run television reported that some 160 Algerian nationals on board a charted plane departed Yemen together with citizens from Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, and Mauritania. Enditem