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Humanitarian crisis looms in Yemen's Aden

Yemeni kids waiting in a water queue in Aden. April 5, 2015 (Getty Images)

Date of publication: 6 April, 2015

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As clashes in Aden intensifies, Yemenis are facing alarming shortages in food, fuel, and medical aid as the International Red Cross calls for an immediate ceasefire.

Explosions shook the suburbs of the Yemeni port city of Aden on Monday as residents reported a foreign warship shelling Houthi positions on the outskirts of the city. 

Street fighting and heavy shelling has for several days torn through the city, the last bastion of support for President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. 

Local officials said strikes also hit air defence and coastal military units near the Red Sea port of Hodaida, and targets on the outskirts of Aden. They also hit a bridge on the road south to Aden, apparently trying to block the Houthis from sending reinforcements to their fighters in the city.

Twelve days of bombing by a Saudi-led coalition has failed to halt the advance of Houthi rebels that has triggered a growing humanitarian crisis for residents in central districts now cut off.   

Clashes are intensifying as Houthis attempt to seize the city's port with at least 53 people, among them over 15 civilians, killed on Sunday according to medical and army sources.  

Overnight, rival forces fought over the town of Daleh, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Aden. Houthis attacked several neighbourhoods in Aden, including Mualla and Khor Maksar.

Food, water and electricity shortages have mounted throughout the country but especially in Aden, where combat has shut ports and cut land routes linking the city to the outside. 

"How are we supposed to live without water and electricity?" pleaded Fatima, a housewife walking through the city streets with her young children.

She clutched a yellow plastic jerry can, like dozens of other residents on the streets and in queues seeking water from public wells or mosque taps after supplies at home dried up.  

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which for days blamed the Saudi-led coalition for delays, told Reuters on Monday that Saudi Arabia had granted permission for an aid shipment.

Pakistani ground troops

Pakistan's Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that Saudi Arabia has asked his country to provide ground support for the offensive against Yemen's Houthis.

Pakistan's parliament is debating whether to contribute militarily in the war, after offering verbal support for the mission earlier.

Asif reiterated that “this is Pakistan's pledge to protect Saudi Arabia's territorial integrity”, raising the stakes for ground support. But Pakistan's stance remains hesitant as the country's army is already at war with local Islamists and sectarian militants.  

The United Nation said on Thursday that more than 500 people had been killed in two weeks of fighting in Yemen, while the ICRC has appealed for an immediate 24-hour pause in fighting to allow aid into Yemen. 

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