1. Home
  2. Middle East and North Africa
  3. Yemen

Rebel leader calls for international aid

Saada residents receiving WFP food assistance.

The leader of Shia rebels in the northern governorate of Saada, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, has called on aid agencies and the UN to focus their efforts on areas that have witnessed fierce clashes between his supporters and government troops over the past few days.

[Read this report in Arabic]

Al-Houthi told IRIN on 5 May the army had blockaded certain areas, preventing food supplies from getting through.

"For more than a week, the army has besieged Al-Takrit and Haidan districts. Food supplies are not being allowed to enter these areas and aid agencies are ignoring them... The authorities will be responsible for any famine that occurs as a result. Aid agencies have to show their kindness towards war-affected citizens," he said.

The blockade was being used to pressure citizens to support government forces, he said.

Dozens on both sides have been killed in the fighting over the past few days, according to the Ministry of Defence.

Al-Houthi said the past four days had seen some fierce clashes: "The army attacked Haidan and Munabeh districts using tanks, artillery and mortars. In other districts there was only tension. Now there is relative calm," he said.

He said the army had also attacked rebel checkpoints. Rashad al-Masri, the governor of Saada Governorate, told the media recently that al-Houthi supporters had escalated the conflict.

More on Saada conflict
 Peace agreement on verge of collapse?
 Malnourished children in northern province get aid
 UNHCR to build homes for displaced people
 Children in clash-prone north highly traumatised - aid workers
 Rebel leader warns of more conflict in Saada
 Fighting escalates in north despite new ceasefire deal
 Calls for humanitarian aid as hundreds are displaced by clashes

Recent major attacks

Sixteen people were killed and 45 wounded in a motorcycle bomb attack outside Bin Salman mosque in Saada city on 2 May. The bomb exploded as worshippers were emerging from the mosque after Friday prayers. Security authorities said the attack was planned by the rebels, an accusation rejected by al-Houthi.

Security authorities said seven soldiers were killed and another 17 injured in a rebel ambush in Majz District on 29 April.

Al-Houthi, meanwhile, has accused the government of not implementing the Qatari-brokered peace agreement signed in February by the two sides.

"They [the authorities] have not ceased fire or released prisoners, and life has not returned to normal. The army has not even vacated our villages, markets, farms and schools. We have complied 80 percent with the peace agreement. Our supporters have come down from 54 sites on the mountains, handed over main routes to the authorities and released prisoners of war," he said.

A new Yemeni presidential committee set up in late April to supervise the peace agreement arrived in Saada City on 4 May and held talks with the Qatari delegation which has also returned to the region in an attempt to end the fighting.


"New displacements have taken place due to the latest fighting. Despite a peace agreement signed in February 2008, the situation remains volatile," the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) office in Yemen said, adding that new internally displaced persons (IDPs), were continuing to arrive in Saada city, including over 200 families in the past week.

Earlier, on 22 April, it had appealed for nearly US$3 million to assist 77,000 IDPs in Saada Governorate, one of the results of the stop-go conflict which dates back to 2004.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Hundreds of thousands of readers trust The New Humanitarian each month for quality journalism that contributes to more effective, accountable, and inclusive ways to improve the lives of people affected by crises.

Our award-winning stories inform policymakers and humanitarians, demand accountability and transparency from those meant to help people in need, and provide a platform for conversation and discussion with and among affected and marginalised people.

We’re able to continue doing this thanks to the support of our donors and readers like you who believe in the power of independent journalism. These contributions help keep our journalism free and accessible to all.

Show your support as we build the future of news media by becoming a member of The New Humanitarian. 

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.