Thousands of civilians trapped in Yemen, says ICRC |
Gulf Today - 07 June, 2012
Tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians are trapped by fighting during a US-backed army offensive on rebels and urgently need help, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday.
The Yemeni army is trying to recapture towns in the southern province of Abyan that were seized by Al Qaeda-linked militants last year during a popular uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who formally relinquished power in February.
In support of the army campaign, the United States has stepped up drone strikes against suspected members of an Qaeda branch that is one of its main global security concerns.
“We are extremely concerned about the people trapped inside, and about the dire situation in Jaar, Shaqra and in nearby areas where fighting is going on,” Eric Marclay, the head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen, said in a statement.
“Our staff were there a few days ago to assess the situation and found serious, urgent needs that, if not met, could lead to the displacement of over 100,000 people. Thousands of people have already fled to safer places.”
Residents are facing food, power and water shortages, while and health-care services are inadequate, the ICRC said.
Concerned about the humanitarian and security crisis, Gulf Arab states and the West pledged more than $ 4 billion in aid to the impoverished state.
About 40 per cent of Yemenis live on less than $ 2 a day. Aid agencies said in May almost half of them lack enough to eat.
In northern Yemen, tribal mediators have begun trying to end months of sectarian fighting near the Saudi border, a Salafi spokesman said.
The “Houthi” rebels, who have fought the government on and off since 2004, exploited the anti-Saleh uprising to escape state control in the rugged northern province of Saada, agreed on Tuesday to join a national dialogue aimed at resolving Yemen’s multiple political conflicts.
Yemeni authorities began on Wednesday to dismantle the main protest camp against Saleh, who stepped down in February after a year-long uprising.
Five bulldozers cleared several tents from the main roads near the capital’s Sanaa University without any resistance from the youth who have occupied the district since February 2011, an AFP correspondent reported.