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Red Cross says situation 'catastrophic' in Yemen's Aden

AFP  |  Aden 

The Red Cross warned today of a "catastrophic" situation in Yemen's main southern city Aden, as loyalist forces battled rebels in the streets backed by shelling by Saudi-led warships.

The Iran-backed Huthi Shiite rebels and their allies made a new push on a port in the central Mualla district of the city but were forced back by militia loyal to fugitive President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, witnesses said.

Naval forces of the Saudi-led coalition, which has carried out nearly two weeks of air strikes in support of Hadi, shelled rebel positions across the city, they added.

Spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Yemen, Marie Claire Feghali, said the humanitarian situation across the country was "very difficult... (with) naval, air and ground routes cut off."

The situation in Aden was "catastrophic to say the least".

"The war in Aden is on every street, in every corner... Many are unable to escape," she said.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said the situation was "worsening by the day".

Medics in Aden had "not received large numbers of casualties over the past few days... Due to the difficulties faced in trying to reach a hospital," said MSF's Marie-Elisabeth Ingres.

MSF has a team of 140 local staff and eight expatriates at a hospital in Aden.

"Our priority is to find a way to send a supporting medical team," Ingres told AFP, adding a team was waiting in Djibouti "for a green light from the coalition".

General Ahmed Assiri, spokesman for the coalition, said later permits had been issued for a boat carrying aid and medics from Djibouti.

The Red Cross hopes to deliver to Sanaa on Wednesday 16 tonnes of medical aid on a plane loaded in Jordan. Another plane carrying twice as much could follow the next day.

At least eight Huthis were killed in a coalition strike north of Aden, a military source said.

Other raids targeted air defence posts in the northeast of Taez province, as well as Al-Sadrayn military base in the north of Daleh province.

Meanwhile, 10 Huthis and three tribesmen were killed in Shabwa, said tribal sources.

Overnight fighting in Aden left at least 10 people dead. That was on top of at least 53 people killed in the previous 24 hours.

Nationwide, more than 540 people have been killed and 1,700 wounded since March 19, the World Health Organization said.

The UN's children agency said at least 74 children had been killed since the coalition strikes began on March 26, adding it believed the real figure to be much higher.

More than 100,000 people had been displaced.

Overnight, Saudi-led warplanes struck the rebel-held Al-Anad air base north of Aden, a general said.

Further east, Al-Qaeda's Yemen franchise sought to tighten its grip on Hadramawt province.

Loud explosions were heard as the jihadists attacked an army base in the provincial capital Mukalla, much of which they captured last week.

The evacuation of foreigners continued with three Indian planes carrying 604 passengers, including some Yemenis, from Sanaa to Djibouti.

Pakistan's navy also said it evacuated about 100 nationals and around 30 foreigners.

Islamabad said it would take its time deciding whether to accept a Saudi request to join the coalition, which so far consists of nine Arab -- mostly Sunni -- countries.

First Published: Wed, April 08 2015. 01:07 IST
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