What’s happening in Yemen today
4.6.2015 edition: Issues with getting aid, The U.S. gets some help for citizens in Yemen, updates on fighting in Sana’a, Mukalla and Aden.
By the Reported.ly Team
“Esoteric”. Photo by Martin Sojka, May 23, 2009, Sokotra Island
We are creating a daily rundown of events in Yemen as Saudi Arabian-led airstrikes against Houthis that began March 26 continue. The Houthi militia has been fighting the Yemeni government for nearly a decade, and in recent months has made enormous gains across the country, including capturing the capital, Sana’a.
For an explanation of what happened in the first few days of the military action, read our synopsis.
Update 4:31 p.m. PT (11:31 p.m. GMT)
U.S. helps (some) citizens get out of Yemen
We reported last week on U.S. citizens who were unable to get out of Yemen with the government’s support and the #StuckinYemen campaign to pressure government.
The U.S. Embassy updated the travel advisory for Yemen, saying with the help of India and the International Organization for Migration, two flights for citizens have been arranged. Both flights will leave this week and land in Djibouti.
However, these flights will not accommodate all U.S. citizens, which the embassy underlined:
There are no plans for a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of U.S. citizens at this time. If you wish to depart Yemen, you should stay alert for other opportunities to leave the country.
UNICEF updates figures of children killed
UNICEF says at least 74 children are known to have been killed and 44 children injured since airstrikes began.
They released the tally with a note that it is a very conservative estimate and they believe the number to be much higher.
“Children are paying an intolerable price for this conflict.” UNICEF Yemen Representative Julien Harneis said in a statement.
Coalition spokesperson: Fighting Al-Qaeda is “different”
During a daily press briefing today, Brig. Gen Ahmed Asiri spoke on fighting Al-Qaeda as well as Houthis in airstrikes.
He commented on the attacks by Al-Qaeda in Mukalla last week where Al-Qaeda released a number of prisoners who then robbed Central Bank.
From the Saudi Press Agency:
Engaging the terrorist outfits such as Al-Qaeda, he underscored, is different from engaging militias like the Houthis, who aim to divert the attention of the coalition from military operations, pointing that the work is underway to evaluate the situation in Mukalla, when the time becomes appropriate to launch the operations.
Asiri said coalition forces are trying to avoid targeting homes and Al-Qaeda is now concealing within homes and “among the population.”
Update 7:40 a.m. ET (11:40 a.m GMT)
The number of victims
Last week, the UN said 519 people were killed, 1,700 injured in Yemen fighting, over 90 of them children.
The International Red Cross appealed for an immediate humanitarian pause: “Our supplies & personnel must be allowed to enter Yemen. For the wounded, their chances of survival depend on action within hours.” On Sunday, after many negotiations, the ICRC finally received permission to fly aid to Yemen, but plane was held back by ‘logistical problems’. Marie Claire Feghali of ICRC Yemen also added that permission is awaited for a boat with specialized medical personnel to arrive in Aden.
Aden is a battleground, and the Houthis gained ground during the weekend. They say they are ready to talk if the GCC airstrikes stop, a senior member told Reuters.
The Khormakser supermarket in Aden was ablaze on Sunday, reportedly hit by a coalition airstrike.
If you want to know more about the historic city of Aden, now tormented by street battles and airstrikes, @husseinshoboksh is tweeting Aden facts in Arabic, illustrated in subsequent tweets by @CtalonyS. Among other things, Aden boasted the first Chamber of Commerce in the Arab Peninsula, in 1886; the 1st civilian aircraft landing, in 1919. Below, a street in Aden’s Mualla district, once “the longest in the Middle East”.
Tribal fighters “pushed AQAP out of much of Mukalla”, where Al Qaeda overran a prison last week, seizing an army base.
Multiple reports and photos in the afternoon of airstrikes aimed at the fuel depot of military base on Al Subaha mound. Explosions from anti-aircraft were heard too.