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The New Arab

Yemen: UN distributes food relief in besieged Taiz

Over 5,800 people have been killed since the start of the Saudi-led bombing campaign [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 January, 2016

The United Nations has distributed food aid in Taiz and inspected the besieged city's hospitals, as Saudi coalition air raids in the north killed five people, including an ambulance driver.
The UN's World Food Programme [WFP] has handed out much needed food aid on Thursday in areas besieged by rebels in Yemen's flashpoint Taiz city for the first time in months, The New Arab's Arabic service has reported.

The WFP distributed 3,000 food baskets in the Mudhaffar and Qahira districts for the first time since a crippling siege began nine months ago in Yemen's third city.

A UN and UNICEF delegation also visited Taiz city to ensure that humanitarian aid is reaching residents in need and evaluate the cost of damage months of rebel shelling has caused.

"The UN delegation met with members of the city's local council and discussed ways to facilitate the entry of aid, but no definite agreement or plan was reached," a WFP official told The New Arab.

"The visit has taken place after lengthy coordination with the Houthi rebels in Sanaa. The rebels agreed to a temporary ceasefire and to allow the delegation entry. However, gunfire could be heard in neighbouring districts," the official said.

The delegation visited local hospitals suffering from shortages of medical supplies and relief distribution centres.

Local aid groups and sources close to the president have said rebels have seized relief goods and distributed them in areas under their control.

     
      Taiz locals taken to mountain paths to bring in goods [Getty]
Aircraft from the Saudi-led coalition this month dropped 40 tonnes of medical equipment and food on Taiz.

The 600,000 residents of Taiz have been in dire need of supplies and many have taken to treacherous mountain paths to bring in goods.

On Friday, Yemen's loyalist militia accused rebels of responsibility for the kidnapping of two al-Jazeera journalists and their driver who have gone missing in Taiz.

Al-Jazeera correspondent Hamdi al-Bokari, his colleague Abd al-Aziz al-Sabri and driver Munir al-Subaie have been missing since Monday night.

In the north of the country, air raids by Saudi-led warplanes killed five people on Friday, including an ambulance driver working for Doctors Without Borders [MSF], and wounded 35.

Hadi loyalists backed by a Saudi-led coalition have fought back and for weeks been trying to retake Taiz province and pave the way towards the rebel-held capital.

The Houthis overran Sanaa more than a year ago, forcing Hadi's government to flee the capital for second city Aden and then to Riyadh.

More than 5,800 people have been killed in Yemen since the start of the Saudi-led bombing campaign against rebels in March, about half of them civilians, according to the UN.

The coalition launched its campaign in support of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi after the rebels overran most of the country and advanced on his southern refuge in Aden, forcing him to flee to Riyadh.
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