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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 January 2021

Houthi rebels cut off vital humanitarian corridor

UN-brokered talks falter as landmines block aid route

A damaged home in Yemen's battle-scarred city of Taez, a city which has been besieged by Houthi rebels. Reuters
A damaged home in Yemen's battle-scarred city of Taez, a city which has been besieged by Houthi rebels. Reuters

Iran-backed Houthi rebels violated a deal brokered on Saturday by the office of the special envoy to Yemen Martine Griffiths, according to Captain Fuad Jubari, spokesperson of Al Dhalea military axis, in comments to The National.

The deal between Yemen’s warring parties was intended to reopen a major humanitarian corridor linking the provinces of Aden and Al Dhalea in Southern Yemen and stretching to the provinces of Sanaa and Ibb, in Houthi-held territory in northern Yemen.

“A team including representatives from the office of the UN special envoy to Yemen, the International Committee of the Red Crescent (ICRC) in Yemen and representatives from the government and the Coalition central command, met in Al Dhalea province on Saturday,” Captain Fuad Jubari said.

“They reached a deal to re-open the main road that links the provinces, starting from Sunday. Our forces lifted their posts along the road and paved the way for relief convoys, passengers, goods and medic teams to reach areas along the frontlines, in line with the recently signed deal,” Captain Fuad Jubari told The National on Monday.

Captain Jubari added that the Houthis had not simply blocked the road, but had actively sought to make it unusable.

“The rebels went far beyond violating the agreement, they went to plant new landmines along the road, deployed new checkpoints and spread snipers along it,” he said.

The government accused Houthi rebels of thwarting the deal and called on the international community to hold them accountable for the harsh conditions millions of civilians suffer in areas affected by the blockade, which was supposed to end on Sunday.

“Lifting the blockade along this major road matters to millions of people caught by war. Merchants and relief convoys from the northern provinces use this road to get access to Aden’s harbours,” Mohammed Al Waqidi, office manager of the Yemen Ministry of Human Rights in Al Dhalea told The National.

Residents of areas along the blocked road also expressed their disappointment that the Houthis had resumed hostilities in the area.

Yemeni forces loyal to the internationally recognised government engage in fighting with Houthi militiamen in the port city of Hodeidah, October 2020. EPA
Yemeni forces loyal to the internationally recognised government engage in fighting with Houthi militiamen in the port city of Hodeidah, October 2020. EPA

“Cutting the main road isolated our area and caused tremendous suffering for us. We have been caught by war along the frontlines for two years,” Ahmed Al Shawki, a farmer from Al Aoud, situated between the affected provinces, told The National.

“We don’t have access to the public markets in Al Dhalea where we usually go to sell our harvest of potatoes and tomatoes. The road blockade has been forcing us to sell the harvest in the markets at very low prices,” Mr Al Shawki said.

The road blockade between the northern provinces and the southern provinces caused prices of the fruit and vegetables to spike through 2020. The price of one kilo of tomatoes in Aden has reached 1500 Yemeni Rials, or about $6.

As the six-year conflict grinds on, it remains unclear when these provinces, and the country as a whole, will see respite from worsening malnutrition, a lack of access to healthcare and clean water, with the young and old increasingly vulnerable.

Published: November 10, 2020 03:22 PM

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