Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 May 2019

Yemen's Houthis block relief convoy and use civilians as human shields in Hodeidah

Residents, mainly senior and disabled citizens and women, held in a small neighbourhood under control of the Iran-backed rebels

Houthi rebels prevented an Emirates Red Crescent relief convoy from providing aid to 50 civilians in the centre of the Al Durayhimi district. Reuters
Houthi rebels prevented an Emirates Red Crescent relief convoy from providing aid to 50 civilians in the centre of the Al Durayhimi district. Reuters

Houthi rebels were stopping relief convoys from reaching dozens of civilians, some of whom were being used as human shields in the centre of the Al Durayhimi district, eastern Hodeidah.

The Iran-backed rebels, who control a small neighbourhood in Al Durayhimi, prevented an Emirates Red Crescent relief convoy from providing aid to 50 civilians in the district on Saturday, which was 90 per cent liberated by pro-government forces in August 2018.

“We called on the Houthis who still hold that neighbourhood, urging them to leave peacefully or allow the detained civilians to reach the relief convoy, which stopped about one kilometre away," Col Wathah Al Dubaish, spokesman for the joint forces in Hodeidah, told The National. "But they shot at us and at some of the women.”

Most of the civilians used as human shields were elderly and disabled people and women, a former resident of the district said.

“The detained civilians have been living in very hard conditions in the centre of the city since August 2018," the former resident said.

"When the pro-government forces liberated 90 per cent of the district, there was a significant water shortage and a lot of people were hungry.

“The Houthis shoot at anyone who tried to flee the area and they planted landmines around the neighbourhood, so everybody stays."

Fighting continued on Sunday between the Houthis and the pro-government forces in the province of Al Dhalea in southern Yemen.

“Our forces have been clashing with the Houthi militia behind Kurain Al Fahed in the Hamak front since the early morning," Ahmed Al Batool, a leader in the Southern Resistance battling the Houthis, told The National.

"We cleared the Houthis out of Al Ouraifat camp behind Kurain Al Fahed after they captured it for hours on Saturday night."

The Houthi militia broke the UN-sponsored ceasefire in Hodeidah, which led to a raging battle in Al Dhalea, 138 kilometres north of the interim capital Aden.

The militant group has also attacked other liberated areas in southern Yemen since the ceasefire was agreed to.

“The UN ceasefire in Hodeidah is a long break granted for the Houthis by the UN," Col Al Dubaish said.

"The Houthis were drawing their last breath but the ceasefire gave them a chance to arrange their ranks, so they have been pushing huge forces to recontrol southern areas in Al Dhalea and Yafaa, which are key entries to Aden.”

Updated: April 22, 2019 09:10 AM

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