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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 July 2018

Houthis cut water and electricity to Hodeidah residents

Iran-backed rebels dig trenches in civilian neighbourhoods as they battle Yemeni government forces

Supporters of Houthi rebels shout slogans and hold up weapons during a gathering to mobilise more fighters into the port city of Hodeidah, in Sanaa, Yemen, on June 25, 2018. Yahya Arhab / EPA
Supporters of Houthi rebels shout slogans and hold up weapons during a gathering to mobilise more fighters into the port city of Hodeidah, in Sanaa, Yemen, on June 25, 2018. Yahya Arhab / EPA

Houthi rebels have cut power and water supplies to neighbourhoods across the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, residents said on Tuesday.

Rebels dug positions in neighbourhoods in preparation for battle against Yemeni government forces who are backed by the Arab Coalition that includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

One resident, Wahba Eissa, said the Houthis’ trenches cut water mains and the rebels refused to fix the damage they have caused.

“We hardly get water. We sometimes go to the mosque to fill up containers with water and bring them home,” she told The National.

“We have no solution. Houthis keep digging and damaging pipes and then enjoy watching us struggle to get some water.

“They call us to take to the streets to protest against the coalition, but they cannot persuade us to do so. We know very well who our enemy is.”

The coalition intervened in the Yemen war in 2015 at the request of the internationally-recognised government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.

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Ali Dahel, who lives on University Street, said that Houthis cut off water and power supplies there.

“The power went out on Monday,” he said. “They are punishing us for refusing to demonstrate against the Arab Coalition. Most residents refused to protest.”

The rebels have been threatening store owners who kept their shops open, which, shopkeeper Mohammed Shawa said, meant cutting off food supplies.

“They started digging trenches near my store, and it drove me crazy because my shop will become a target,” he said.

“I begged them not to do so, but they brazenly told me to leave my shop because they will not let me open for business anyway. It’s a war zone, they said.

“In order to persuade them to leave, I offered to pay them. The idea of paying them pleased them … so I gave them a large sum of money and they moved along to open near another shop.”

In the last couple of days, the Houthis have been blocking streets in the north of the city that lead to the ports, isolating people who live in the northern part of Hodeidah.

“We found ourselves forced to stay indoors because the rebels blocked most of the streets, turning the city into a platform of war,” Nashwan Mohammed, a resident, told The National.

“Our life is getting more and more miserable every day. We are really suffering. They cut off the water; we live in darkness and the supply of gas is about to run out.

“We still have some food, but that is also going to run out. I don’t know what we’re going to do then.”