25 February 2018

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Shia Houthi rebels ready to accept Saudi ceasefire proposal

Riyadh offers a five-day ceasefire to let in humanitarian aid. Saudi King Salman defends military operation, which he claims was prompted by a desire to stop threats from a "sectarian group". Over 70,000 civilians, including thousands of children, are fleeing rebel-held Sadaa. UN expressed concern over escalating violence.

Sana'a (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Houthi rebels have responded positively to five-day humanitarian ceasefire proposal by the Saudi-led coalition. For the past few weeks, the latter has carried out a military campaign in Yemen against the Iran-backed Shia rebels.

On Friday, Saudi Arabia offered the five-day ceasefire starting on Tuesday – to let in much needed food and medical supplies for the war-torn civilian population.

Aid agencies said 70,000 people, including 28,000 children, were fleeing Saada alone, which is under Houthi control.

The Saudi-led coalition, backed by Washington, wants to reinstate ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who fled the capital Sanaa last February after rebel Houthis seized the city.

On several occasions, the Saudis, who are Sunni Muslims, have accused Iran of arming Shia Houthi rebels, an accusation Tehran denies.

The Saudi King Salman defended his country’s military operation against Yemen rebels, saying that the coalition sought to “save Yemen and its brotherly people from a group entrenched with the spirit of sectarianism” that threatened regional peace and security.

The operation, Salman noted, has prevented Yemen from "becoming a theatre for terrorism, discord, and internal fighting, similar to some countries." 

However, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Johannes van der Klaauw said he was deeply concerned with Saudi-led coalition raids in northern Yemen against Houthi rebels.

"The indiscriminate bombing of populated areas, with or without prior warning, is in contravention of international humanitarian law," the UN diplomat explained.

According to the Saudi-led coalition, Saada is a "military zone". On Friday, it dropped leaflets  warning residents to leave. But for van der Klaauw, "Many civilians are effectively trapped in Saada as they are unable to access transport because of the fuel shortage. The targeting of an entire governorate will put countless civilians at risk." Dropping leaflets will not absolve the Saudis of their responsibilities.

Coalition warplanes also struck the Sanaa residence of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The former president – who is allied to the rebels – and his family are said to be unharmed.

Meanwhile, a ship chartered by the UN's World Food Programme docked in the western port of Hodeida, bringing fuel to boost aid deliveries. The MV Amsterdam brought 300,000 litres of fuel and supplies for humanitarian organisations.

Since January, Yemen has been the scene of a bloody internal conflict opposing the country’s Sunni rulers, backed by Saudi Arabia, and Shia Houthi rebels, supported by Iran.

Since March, the Saudi led-coalition has carried out air strikes against the rebels. According to UN figures, the conflict has killed at least 1,400 people injuring another 6,000 since 19 March.

See also

18/05/2017 09:56:00 YEMEN - SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi air raid in Yemen hits civilians: 23 victims, including women and children

The attack took place yesterday near the city of Taez, in the southwest of the country, in an area controlled by Houthi rebels. Government source speaks of "error" in targeting objective. No comment from Riyadh. Vehicle crowded with civilians returning from a day of shopping hit.

Sanaa: Shiite suicide bomb attack leaves 15 dead and over 50 injured
The bomber struck a hospital, used as a base of operations by the rebel group, in the town of Majzar, in the province of Maarib, east of the capital. Islamist Ansar al-Sharia militia linked to al Qaeda behind attack. Saudi Arabia says political instability in Yemen poses a global threat.

15/04/2015 YEMEN
UN applies an arms embargo on Houthis, amid skepticism
The UN resolution voted by 14 to 15. Russia abstains. In addition to the arms embargo on the Houthi, sanctions will be imposed on rebel leaders. So far there have been 736 deaths, half of them civilian. The UN denounces attacks on hospitals and schools. Iran proposes a dialogue between all the components of Yemeni society, but it falls on deaf ears. An al Qaeda leader.

24/11/2017 10:06:00 SYRIA – SAUDI ARABIA - UN
Syrian opposition sends united delegation to UN talks in Geneva

The announcement came on the second day of ongoing meetings in Riyadh. There are 140 opposition leaders. The goal is to find unity in view of the new round of peace talks, scheduled for 28 November. But Assad's fate continues to be a source of division.

09/08/2017 08:59:00 YEMEN
ICRC: Airstrikes against Yemen Civilians are an Alarming Trend

Recent airstrikes hit the Saada and Taez governorates. In the latest incident, nine members of one family were killed and three critically injured. Casualties were between 3 and 80 years old. “We strongly deplore” the trend of targeting public places and private houses, said the ICRC. This pattern runs against the basic tenets of the law of armed conflict.

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