Yemen conflict: Red Cross calls for truce as thousands flee homes amid heavy fighting


Around 100,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes as heavy fighting rages in Yemen, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF says.

The World Health Organisation says at least 550 people have died in the fighting in recent weeks, with hospitals under increasing pressure as they run short of supplies and struggle to cope with mass casualties.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) plans to fly in 48 tonnes of medical help and other supplies over the next two days.

ICRC said the crisis was catastrophic, particularly in southern city of Aden where forces loyal to exiled president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi continue to battle Houthi rebels, backed by shelling from Saudi-led warships.

ICRC spokeswoman Marie Claire Feghali is calling for an immediate truce so the aid can get through.

“What’s more important today is for the medical supplies to arrive to Yemen,” she said.

“We will manage its distribution to medical facilities and clinics and hospitals through the health and housing ministries in Yemen.

“We will also transport them via the Red Cross vehicles so that they are secured.

“The humanitarian conditions are very, very bad.

“Beside the airstrikes, which we can hear a little bit right now, there are also wars and battles that are still ongoing in some of the areas and particularly in Aden.

“The hospitals are suffering a lot. They are unable to care for the large numbers of wounded and there are also the bodies that are on the streets which the families are unable to pick up and bury in a suitable manner.”

Many Yemenis and foreigners have escaped by ship to neighbouring Djibouti

Tom Kelly, US ambassador to Djibouti, told the BBC the Houthi rebels should enter peace talks.

“We are told by evacuees who we’re talking to that the situation is extremely dire,” he said.

“Clearly what needs to happen is the Houthis need to come to the bargaining table.”

But there is no sign talks are imminent, as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia continues its air strikes against the rebels.

Meanwhile, the United States is firming up support for a Saudi-led coalition and says it is speeding up the delivery of weapons to those confronting Houthi fighters in the region.

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