Tens of Saudi Raids ahead of Truce, Humanitarian Agencies Warn of Catastrophe in Yemen

KSA Continues to Bomb Saada

Saudi-led warplanes pressed air strikes against Yemen on Monday, 36 hours before a scheduled five-day pause to allow the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid, witnesses said.

The war coalition pounded the Saada in the northern mountains for a third straight night after declaring the whole province a military target on Friday.

Aid agencies say some 70,000 civilians have fled the province, which borders Saudi Arabia, but that many more remain trapped in the coalition air and artillery bombardment due to the lack of fuel for transport.

We are living under a very difficult and unprecedented humanitarian situation,” said one Saada resident, who asked not to be named.

“We want to leave Saada but can’t due to the financial situation and the shortage of fuel,” the resident said.

UN: Dreadful Death Toll

This comes as the United Nations has expressed deep concern about the civilian death toll from the bombing – an estimated 1,400 people have died in the Saudi bombing – and the humanitarian impact of the air and sea blockade of Saudi Arabia and its allies have imposed on its impoverished neighbor.

“The conflict in Yemen is taking a dreadful toll on civilians,” the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for the country has warned, as he also expressed deep concern over Sunday’s airstrikes on the city of Saada, where scores of civilians were reportedly killed.

“Many civilians are effectively trapped in Saada as they are unable to access transport because of the fuel shortage,” Johannes van der Klaauw said in a statement released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA].

Van der Klaauw said that thousands more of civilians were forced to flee their homes after the coalition declared the entire governorate in Sa’ada a military target.

“The targeting of an entire governorate will put countless civilians at risk,” the humanitarian coordinator warned, saying that the indiscriminate bombing of populated areas, with or without prior warning, is in contravention of international humanitarian law [IHL].

Communities across Yemen are being impacted by the conflict and shortage of basic commodities, he said, urging the international community to “redouble our efforts to stop the fighting and to save lives.”

“The impact on civilian infrastructure across Yemen has been devastating. Many Yemenis are now deprived of access to basic services, including medical treatment, food, water and other necessities. Conflict continues to rage across the country, putting men, women and children from all of Yemen’s communities at risk,” van der Klaauw said.

Doctors without Borders: Situation Worsening

For his part, UN Yemen envoy said “indiscriminate bombing of populated areas” in Saada violates international law.

Hours earlier, the program manager with Doctors without Borders in Yemen, Teresa Sancristoval, warned that “the situation in Sanaa is particularly worrying in what it concerns to water.”

“People are trying to do their best to get the water. But we have reports of people stealing during the night and the water tanks in the roofs because they really need water, and they don’t how to get it.”

According to the manager, the situation in Saada continues to worsen: “It looks like there is nobody there. It looks like everybody has escaped from the town. Yesterday, when I left Saada, what we saw was quite a number of people leaving by foot. There was not public transport, and I guess not everybody has a car. And even those that they have a car, I’m not sure that they have the capacity to buy fuel or to find fuel. But it’s quite difficult to know the situation because, to be honest, we were not able to do a lot of movement in the city.”

Yemeni Health Ministry: Shelling Hospitals Catastrophic

In parallel, the Yemeni Health Ministry announced its inability of accommodating the health catastrophe occurring in Saada province due to the intensified Saudi airstrikes.

The bombing resulted in large numbers of civilian victims mostly among women and children.

The ministry issued a statement confirming that “the catastrophe is bigger than the remaining capacity of its health system in the province”. It also called on all international organizations, especially Red Cross, Doctors without borders and all local bodies to participate in providing health services for the victims.

The statement stated that: “the Saudi aggression air strikes have shelled more than 13 hospitals and health centers in Saada in the last days. It also targeted the roads, an Oxygen plant; in addition to lack of oil derivatives and migration of the medical body due to the bombardment. The mentioned above have made the ministry disable of covering the present health catastrophe.”

On another level, Yemen’s Arabic broadcaster, al-Massirah, has been taken off the air by Egyptian Satellite Company Nilesat, while YouTube has removed the channel’s uploaded files showing the devastation caused by Saudi Arabia’s bombardment of the country.

The channel said on its Twitter account that Nilesat suspended its transmission on Sunday evening.

Al-Massirah also tweeted that the suspension was a result of “Saudi-American pressure” on the satellite company.

The channel has been broadcasting the images of the victims of and the damage caused by the Saudi aggression against Yemen.

Source: Yemen Watch