UN calls for a ceasefire in northern Yemen

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THE UN called for an end to hostilities in the province of Marib, where Shiite rebels and forces of the internationally recognized government are fighting, so that humanitarian aid can be distributed, which is absolutely crucial for the civilian population, especially the displaced.

Marib, the eponymous capital of the oil-rich province, is the last stronghold of government forces in the north. Yemen, as practically all the rest is in the hands of the Houthi rebels, who are considered to be close to Iran.

The rebels launched an offensive in February to seize the strategically important city and have been advancing in recent weeks, although their opponents say they have suffered heavy casualties.

The military alliance led by Saudi Arabia, which intervened in the civil conflict in Yemen in March 2015 on the side of government forces, reacts by launching dozens of air raids in which, according to her, several hundred Houthi warriors have been killed in recent days.

In a statement issued on Thursday, October 14, the UN noted the “escalation” of recent weeks in Marib, as well as in the provinces of Samboa (south) and Al Baida (central), stating its “catastrophic impact on civilians”.

“I call on all parties to the conflict to reach an agreement now on the cessation of hostilities in al-Abdiyah”, said in a statement David Gresley, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Yemen, referring to an area about 100km south of Marib that has recently become the focus of the conflict.

According to him, the armistice would allow “The safe passage of civilians and workers in humanitarian organizations, as well as the transport of the wounded”.

About 35,000 people are having a hard time getting in or out of the sector, the statement said. Among them are 17,000 very vulnerable, internally displaced people who have fled to al-Abdiyah after being ousted from their homes by hostilities in other areas.

The fighting complicates the distribution of basic necessities and humanitarian aid, as well as access to medical care for the sick and wounded, the text said.

Nearly 10,000 people were displaced in Marib province in September alone, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The conflict of more than seven years has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and displaced millions more, aid organizations say. According to the UN, the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world is unfolding in Yemen in recent years.

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