Human Rights |

Aden fighting mars Eid al-Adha for civilians

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

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Displaced al-Hodeidah native Fatema Hassan told Al-Mashareq she has been camping out in a shelter made of cardboard in Sanaa because she could not find a better place to live. [Haitham Mohammed/Al-Mashareq]

Armed clashes in the Yemeni government's temporary capital of Aden have sparked a further deterioration in the humanitarian situation, with civilian deaths and injuries and services disrupted, officials and residents said.

At least 40 people have been killed in the city, including civilians, since clashes broke out Thursday between the Southern Transitional Council and forces loyal to President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the UN said Sunday (August 11th).

Around 260 others have been wounded, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.

During the fighting in the southern port city, shops closed their doors, residents stayed at home, and water and electricity supplies were disrupted.

The Arab coalition on Saturday called for a ceasefire, with all sides declaring their support for such a move on Sunday.

Life began to return to the streets on a limited scale on Sunday as Eid al-Adha began.

"The water network started to partially operate at dawn on Eid, but it stopped again. Electricity also comes and goes," said Aden resident Anhar Salem.

"In the four days preceding Eid, Aden turned into a ghost city," she told Al-Mashareq. "People are afraid and did not prepare for Eid as they usually do. Their biggest hope is that clashes will stop so life can return to normal."

"Life started to return to Aden on the morning of Eid after a ceasefire was announced," she said. "Shops gradually reopened their doors, but people still move around with extreme caution and apprehension."

Civilians face injury, hardship

According to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), about 119 of the wounded were admitted to hospital in less than 24 hours, with 62 of them in critical condition.

Most of the wounded are civilians, according to MSF's Yemen project officer Caroline Seguin.

The hospital cannot cope with the high volume of admissions, she said, noting that some medical staff have been unable to make it to the facility "because of the fierce battles and blockage of roads".

Hundreds of families were displaced from Aden as clashes between Yemeni government forces and Southern Transitional Council forces roiled the city.

The armed clashes have exacerbated the suffering of Aden's civilian population, political analyst Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.

Dead bodies are strewn along the city streets, he said.

"The Health Ministry called for opening safe passages to rescue the wounded and transfer the dead, while the electricity corporation said it would suspend its services due to stoppage of oil supplies needed to power its plants," he added.

"In addition, Aden airport has been out of service for four days, affecting patients who travelled to Aden from other provinces seeking treatment abroad," he said.

"Yemen Airways told passengers whose flights were cancelled to re-plan their trips via Seiyun," he said, noting however that it takes a full day to reach Seiyun by land.

Some Aden residents fled to neighbouring provinces to escape the fighting, Ahmed said, noting that some relief organisations suspended their services.

Food aid to resume in Sanaa

Meanwhile, the UN on Friday announced it would resume the distribution of food assistance after Eid al-Adha in areas controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah), after the Houthis pledged to give guarantees about beneficiaries.

The World Food Programme suspended food aid to 850,000 people in Sanaa on June 20th after discovering the Houthis had been diverting food intended for the civilian population.

The resumption of assistance, whether in kind or cash, to civilians affected by the war and to the displaced population in Sanaa, will help to alleviate their suffering, economist Abdul Aziz Thabet told Al-Mashareq.

Many people have been forced to resort to begging, he said.

Displaced al-Hodeidah native Fatema Hassan told Al-Mashareq she has been camping out in Sanaa with her children in a shelter made of cardboard.

"I have not found a better place to live," she said, noting that her shelter is vulnerable to the elements and that she survives by asking passers-by for help.

Residents of areas controlled by the Houthis are facing high food prices, which traders and suppliers have raised in response to the tariffs the militia has imposed on them, Thabet said.

"These circumstances have made people in those areas unable to provide for the minimum needs of their families," he said, adding that the stoppage of public sector salaries and high exchange rates with the US dollar also are a factor.

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