Gun­men posted on hos­pi­tal roof

Cape Times - - WORLD -

HOUTHI fighters bat­tled Saudi-led forces in Ye­men’s port city of Hodei­dah yes­ter­day and posted gun­men on the roof of a hos­pi­tal, leav­ing doc­tors and young pa­tients in the line of fire, rights groups and mil­i­tary sources said.

The Houthis raided the May 22 hos­pi­tal in the city’s eastern sub­urbs, sources said, as clashes raged on in the face of mount­ing calls from world pow­ers, in­clud­ing some of Saudi Ara­bia’s main Western al­lies, for a cease­fire.

“This is a stom­ach-churn­ing de­vel­op­ment that could have dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences for the hos­pi­tal’s med­i­cal work­ers and dozens of civil­ian pa­tients, in­clud­ing many chil­dren,” said Amnesty’s In­ter­na­tional’s Mid­dle East direc­tor of cam­paigns Samah Ha­did. Fight­ing was get­ting closer to the hos­pi­tal and had dis­rupted ser­vices there, the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross said.

A Saudi-led coali­tion has been bat­tling to push Iran-al­lied Houthis out of the city they have held since 2014. A surge of fight­ing in the past week has trapped thou­sands of civil­ians in the cross­fire and coali­tion air raids.

UN bod­ies and other pow­ers have warned that an all-out at­tack on the city, an en­try point for 80% of Ye­men’s food im­ports and aid re­lief, could trig­ger a famine in the im­pov­er­ished state.

The lat­est fight­ing has fo­cused on Hodei­dah’s eastern neigh­bour­hoods and around a univer­sity just 4km from the port and a few blocks from al-Thawra hos­pi­tal, the main med­i­cal fa­cil­ity on Ye­men’s western coast.

Saudi Ara­bia is lead­ing a Western-backed al­liance of Sunni Mus­lim Arab states to try to re­store Ye­meni Pres­i­dent Abd-Rabbu Man­sour Hadi and his in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised gov­ern­ment that was ousted from the cap­i­tal Sana’a by the Houthis in 2015.

As fight­ing mounted, Hadi ap­pointed a new de­fence min­is­ter, Mo­hammed al-Maqdishi, and named Ab­dul­lah Al-Nakhi as chief of staff, state news agency SABA re­ported.

Maqdishi had been chief of staff and the facto de­fence min­is­ter for more than a year, and the of­fi­cial ti­tle would give him more au­thor­ity.

Ye­men’s ousted gov­ern­ment has fled fur­ther south down the coast in Aden, but Hadi and other cab­i­net mem­bers are based in Riyadh. The Houthis say they are de­fend­ing their home­land from for­eign in­vaders and ac­cuse the Ye­meni gov­ern­ment of decades of marginal­i­sa­tion. The UN said in Au­gust 2016 that ac­cord­ing to med­i­cal cen­tres at least 10000 peo­ple had been killed by then.

Pres­sure has mounted on Saudi Ara­bia since the killing of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi in the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul last month to end the war that has al­ready cre­ated one of the world’s worse hu­man­i­tar­ian crises.

Amnesty said it had doc­u­mented a series of air strikes car­ried out by Saudi Ara­bia and the UAE-led coali­tion in the lead-up to the re­cent es­ca­la­tion in fight­ing, in­clud­ing two that killed 11 and 21 civil­ians last month.

| EPA

CROSSES com­mem­o­rat­ing fallen so­li­diers in the gar­dens at West­min­ster Abbey’s Field of Re­mem­brance in Lon­don, yes­ter­day, ahead of Armistice Day on Sun­day. Bri­tain’s Prince Harry, the Duke of Sus­sex, laid the first cross of re­mem­brance to com­mem­o­rate the cen­te­nary of the end of WWI.

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