Humanitarian groups fear that fighting over Hodeidah will leave millions of Yemenis without aid

By Middle East Affairs

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has taken security measures to ensure the safety of 71 of its workers by relocating them to Djibouti after numerous security threats plagued Yemen.

The ICRC requested all sides to grant them security guarantees so it can keep providing its services of surgical, water and food assistance to the many Yemenis that desperately needed, their efforts will be made that much more difficult by the recent evacuations on Thursday.

Marie-Claire Feghali the spokesperson for the aid agency said that 450 international staff members are still offering and providing care in Yemen.

A statement that the organization released said: “Our current activities have been blocked, threatened and directly targeted in recent weeks, and we see a vigorous attempt to instrumentalize our organization as a pawn in the conflict.”

The statement was released months earlier following a terror incident that left an ICRC employee dead after a gunman opened fire at his car in the southwestern Yemeni city of Taiz.

The statement also read, “While the Yemen delegation has received numerous threats in the past, we cannot now accept additional risk less than two months after a gunman killed a staff member. The security of our staff, who are being intimidated by parties to the conflict, is a non-negotiable prerequisite for our presence and work in Yemen and an absolute priority.”

The war which began in 2014 when Iran backed and funded Houthi militia forced the Saudi supported government into exile intensified in 2015 when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Sunni Muslim allies joined to keep Houthi forces from taking further control.

The United Nations said it had no plans to evacuate its staff, even though unidentified forces attacked a U.N. aid vessel in the Hodeidah port over the weekend.

Jens Laerke of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said, “We can confirm that UN international and national staff remain in place in Yemen, including in all five active field hubs (Aden, Hodeidah, Ibb, Sa’ada and Sana’a).”

In recent weeks Saudi led military have come close to taking control of Hodeidah, an important port for the Houthis, which leaves many aid agencies in fear that fighting will explode and block off what is perhaps the most vital zone for food imports for millions of starved and malnourished Yemenis.

 

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