Yemen's Houthi rebels have looted aid supplies from a World Food Programme storage facility near the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, a government minister said on Friday.
Abdel-Raqeeb Fateh, the minister of local administration, said the Houthis have turned the warehouse in Al Duraihimi district into a barracks. Calling for a UN response, Mr Fateh said the Houthis were intimidating humanitarian workers.
Saber Abdulwahed, a journalist with the pro-government Al Amalikah media centre, told The National that Houthis had stolen more than 2,000 food parcels from the facility. The deliveries were intended for families who were prevented from fleeing Houthi-controlled areas near military operations.
Joint forces of the internationally-backed Yemeni government, supported by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition, have been conducting operations around Hodeidah in the build-up to an offensive to liberate the port city.
A resident of Al Duraihimi told The National that the latest incident was not isolated. He said the Houthis have looted many UN aid shipments and distribute them to sympathetic families and those of fighters who join their ranks.
Mr Fatah also highlighted harassment Houthis in Hodeidah and pointed to incidents in recent months, including the burning of four WFP warehouses, the arrest of two aid workers, the prevention of World Health Organisation teams carrying out anti-polio vaccinations and the abduction of aid workers from the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Separately, two soldiers from the 22 Brigade in Taez were kidnapped on Friday afternoon, a local source told The National.
The soldiers – Eisa Al Sameaee and Najeeb Al Himyari – where kidnapped in Al Waleed public market in the middle of Taez city by four gunmen.
The development comes after weeks of clashes between a militia from the Islah party, which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Salafi Kata'ib Abu Al Abbas group. Both parties are anti-Houthi and are nominally aligned to the internationally recognised government of Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.
Sources in Taez reported that Islah targeted Kata'ib Abu Al Abbas fighters in a bid to wrest control of territory from them in the partially liberated city. Houthi militias still control large parts of the town and the surrounding areas.