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UN ‘extremely’ concerned for civilian safety in embattled Mokha

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Pro-Saudi militants are seen during an offensive in the southeastern port of Mokha, Yemen, on January 23, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The UN aid official for Yemen has voiced “extreme concern” about the severity of the situation facing civilians in the southwestern port city of Mokha, which has been under attack by Saudi mercenaries backed by Riyadh’s air raids.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Jamie McGoldrick sounded the alarm on Tuesday concerning the port city of al-Mokha, while suggesting that the situation was not much better off in the general Ta’izz Province, where the city is located.

On January 7, the pro-Saudi militiamen started out an offensive to wrest control of Mokha from Houthi Ansarullah fighters and allied army forces amid a push to take control of all strategic Red Sea ports in Yemen.

Nearly 230 people have reportedly died ever since the militants loyal to the former government launched the offensive to capture Mokha.

Up to 30,000 people are estimated to be trapped in al-Mokha, roughly one-third of the population, and in need of immediate protection and relief assistance, McGoldrick said.

“A halt to the fighting is required to facilitate the delivery of assistance to al-Mokha and enable the free movement of civilians,” he added.

He also noted that scores of civilians have been injured by repeated airstrikes, shelling and sniper attacks in and around the city. The official regretted that the attacks had also halted most services, including the main market and the water supply system.

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“I call on all parties to the conflict to meet their obligations under the international humanitarian law,” he said, urging all sides to ensure the humanitarian organizations have “rapid, safe and unimpeded access to reach the people in need in the town of al-Mokha and the wider affected region.”

A Saudi-backed militiaman places a mortar shell into a rocket launcher in the Yemen’s Ta’izz Province, where the port city of al-Mokha is located, November 1, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

McGoldrick further warned about the situation in the province’s Dhubab District, saying tens of thousands of civilians were being forced to flee their homes there.

Yemen’s former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a devoted ally of Saudi Arabia, resigned in March 2015 and fled to Riyadh.

Ever since, the Saudi military has been taking the country under inexorable bombing and lending backup airpower to the militias operating on the ground to reinstall the former head of state, who is now based in Aden.

The Houthi Ansarullah movement has joined forces with the army and popular forces to defend the civilian population against the notoriously-indiscriminate attacks by the Saudi military and its mercenaries.

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