World, Middle East

UN calls for ‘humanitarian pause’ in Yemen’s Taiz

Fighting has continued to rage between govt forces and Houthi militiamen, especially in Yemen's central Taiz province

Mohamed Sabry Emam Muhammed   | 27.07.2016
UN calls for ‘humanitarian pause’ in Yemen’s Taiz

Yemen

By Zakaria al-Kamali

SANAA

The UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen on Wednesday called for a "humanitarian ceasefire" in Yemen’s central Taiz province amid a recent escalation in fighting between government forces and the Shia Houthi group.

"I call on all parties to agree immediately to a humanitarian pause [in fighting] with a view to protecting civilians and working with the UN and its humanitarian partners to facilitate the treatment and evacuation of injured people and the delivery of urgently needed medicine and other life-saving assistance," James McGoldrick said in a Wednesday statement.

Fighting has continued to rage between Saudi-backed government forces and Houthi militiamen in Taiz, especially in the town of Al-Sarari, a Houthi stronghold southeast of Taiz that was recently captured by government forces.

The Houthis have accused government troops of forcing their supporters from their homes in the town.

"I remind all parties to the conflict of their obligation under international humanitarian law to allow the unconditional delivery of humanitarian aid to all those in need of assistance," McGoldrick said.

"It is unacceptable to hold civilian populations hostage and deprive them of humanitarian assistance for political or military gain," he said. "All parties that violate international humanitarian law should remember that they may be held to account."

The recent uptick in violence comes as the two warring parties continue to hold UN-sponsored talks in Kuwait with a view to resolving the conflict, in which more than 6,400 people have been killed and another 2.5 million forced to flee their homes.

Meanwhile, a pro-Houthi television channel reported late Tuesday night that two Saudi tanks had been destroyed by Houthi fighters near the Yemeni-Saudi border.

According to the Al-Masirah channel, Houthi fighters attacked Saudi forces near the border, leaving a number dead and injured.

No further details were provided by the channel while Saudi authorities have yet to comment on the report.

And on Monday, five Saudi border guards were killed in clashes with Houthi militants along the border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Yemen has been racked by chaos since late 2014, when the Houthis and their allies overran capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and his Saudi-backed government to temporarily flee to Riyadh.

In March of last year, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive military campaign aimed at reversing Houthi gains in Yemen and restoring Hadi’s embattled government.

Backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, pro-Hadi forces have since managed to reclaim large swathes of the country’s south -- including provisional capital Aden -- but have failed to retake Sanaa and other strategic areas.

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