ADEN: Two UN aid ships docked in Yemen’s devastated port city of Aden yesterday bringing desperately needed relief supplies after four months of fierce fighting between rebels and loyalist fighters. The humanitarian aid arrived as forces loyal to exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi pressed on with operations to tighten their control over the southern city. “This is the first boat carrying the UN flag to dock in Aden since the war began” in late March, provincial Governor Nayef Al-Bakri told reporters at the port before a second vessel also docked. Transport Minister Badr Basalmeh said the two consignments sent by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) amounted to 7,000 tons of food and pharmaceutical aid. The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), which chartered the ships, had tried repeatedly in past weeks to deliver aid to the port city but failed because of security concerns. Vessels sent by the UAE managed to reach Aden in May but not under the UN flag. A humanitarian ceasefire declared by the United Nations earlier this month failed to take hold.
The WFP had described the truce as the “final hope” to deliver desperately needed aid. The WFP had delivered aid ahead of the truce to the rebel-controlled Hodeida port in western Yemen, but the insurgents did not allow an aid convoy to travel to Aden. The United Nations had warned then that the impoverished country was just “one step away from famine.” More than 21.1 million people-over 80 percent of Yemen’s population-need aid, with 13 million facing food shortages. The United Nations says the conflict has killed more than 3,640 people, around half of them civilians, since late March. Over the past week, forces loyal to Hadi have recaptured most of Aden from Huthi Shiite rebels and their allies. The loyalist advances were backed by warplanes from a Saudi-led Arab coalition that mounted a bombing campaign against the rebels late March. Transport Minister Badr Basalmeh told journalists Monday that a UAE technical team had arrived to repair the control tower and passenger terminal at Aden international airport, heavily damaged in clashes before rebel forces were driven out
Bomb near Shiite mosque
Yesterday, the UAE said without elaborating than an officer in its armed forces was killed in coalition operations, the third Emirati killed in the conflict. The coalition has never acknowledged putting boots on the ground in Yemen, but loyalists have been reinforced in Aden by forces trained by the coalition. On Friday, exiled Prime Minister Khaled Bahah declared the city to be liberated, although rebels pockets have fought on in some districts. Rebel bombardment on Sunday killed 57 civilians in the Dar Saad neighborhood of northern Aden, according to local health chief Al-Khader Laswar. The rebels have overrun much of the Sunnimajority country, aided by their allies among forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh. In rebel-controlled Sanaa, a car bombing near a Shiite mosque Monday claimed by the Islamic State group killed four people, the Shiite rebels said. The Sunni extremists of IS have carried out a string of deadly attacks against Shiite targets in Yemen since March. The Houthis, who overran Sanaa last September, also lost 11 fighters in other attacks in the capital Monday night, medics and witnesses said. Six were killed in a shooting at a checkpoint near the central bank and five more in a car bombing against a police station. — AFP