UAE team arrives in Yemen
ADEN // A team from the UAE has arrived in Aden to reopen the airport, clearing the way for the arrival of urgently needed aid.
Yemen’s transport minister, Badr Mubarak Ba-Salma, said that the specialist technical team would reopen Aden International Airport in 24 hours.
Mr Ba-Salma said contractors would be brought in to work on the airport over the next two days, calling on international organisations to come to Aden and provide relief for the city’s embattled citizens.
Meanwhile, the death toll from shelling by Houthi rebels of a town near Aden rose yesterday to nearly 100.
Also on Monday, Yemen’s president, Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, met Salem Khalifa Al Ghafli, the UAE Ambassador to the country.
Mr Al Ghafli conveyed the greetings of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on the occasion of Eid Al Fitr and the liberation of Aden from the Houthis and their allies.
Mr Hadi praised the UAE’s stance and the leadership of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The Yemeni president asked the UAE envoy to convey his greetings to Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.
Mr Al Ghafli emphasised the UAE’s continuous support to the Yemeni people’s unity, security, and the constitutional legitimacy represented by Mr Hadi, the internationally recognised president.
The Houthi shelling in Dar Saad began on Monday after the Houthi rebels lost control of much of the Aden district of Tawahi.
Hassan Boucenine of the Geneva-based Medicines San Frontiers said that by Monday, his organisation counted nearly 100 people dead, twice the casualty toll from the previous day.
The shelling also wounded about 200 people, said Mr Boucenine, the head of the organisation in Yemen. Of the victims, 80 per cent are civilians, including many pregnant women, elderly and children, he added.
“Yesterday was the worst day in Aden since (the conflict) started in March,” Mr Boucenine said, adding that he fears “attacks on civilians will continue.”
Medicines San Frontiers said in a statement: “Over the course of just a few hours yesterday, Doctors Without Borders teams in ... Aden received 150 people wounded in reprisal attacks by Houthi fighters, among them women, children and the elderly”.
Tawahi is now under a security lockdown, the officials said, as anti-Houthi forces search buildings looking for rebels, some of whom had fled to the nearby mountains.
Tawahi was the last district in Aden still held by the rebels. Fighters from the Southern Resistance, which wants the former state of South Yemen to break from the north after 25 years of unification, entered Tawahi, at the tip of Aden’s peninsula, late on Sunday after securing the Crater district.
They took control of the television and radio buildings, and army and security bases in fierce fighting, the group’s spokesman Ali Al Ahmadi said.
Local fighters and Yemeni army units are also battling the Houthis around important military bases in Lahj province, to Aden’s north, and in Abyan province, along the Indian Ocean coast east of the city.
The coalition also struck the home of Mehdi Meqlawa, a prominent supporter of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Houthi ally, in a Sanaa suburb. In the Yemeni capital, it also hit Houthi headquarters near the Souq Aziz market, killing one person.
Rebel shelling continued Monday in Taez, Yemen’s third-largest city, killing eight residents, while ground fighting raged on in Mareb, with six anti-Houthi tribesmen and 10 Houthi fighters killed in clashes.
The spokesman of the Yemeni government in exile, Rageh Badie, said they appointed the head of the Resistance Council, Nayef Al Bakri, as governor of Aden.
Mr Al Bakri served as deputy to the former governor, Abdulaziz bin Habtoor, who fled the embattled city earlier this year. Mr Al Bakri is joined by the exiled deputy minister of health and the transportation and interior ministers, who have flown into Aden two days ago from Saudi Arabia. Other exiled ministers will follow suit over the next few weeks, Mr Badie said.
Yemen’s conflict pits the Iran-allied Houthis and troops loyal to the former president, Mr Saleh, against an array of forces, including southern separatists, local and tribal militias, Sunni militants as well as loyalists of Mr Hadi.
* Wam, Associated Press, Reuters