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  • Report: Pace of Airstrikes, Clashes in Yemen Sharply Higher in 2017

    DUBAI Yemen suffered more airstrikes in the first half of this year than in the whole of 2016, increasing the number of civilian deaths and forcing more people to flee their homes, according to a report by international aid agencies.

    The pace of clashes on the ground has also intensified this year, especially around Yemen’s third largest city, Taiz, which is besieged by the Iran-aligned Houthis, said the report.

    The number of airstrikes in the first six months of 2017 totalled 5,676, according to the report by the Protection Cluster in Yemen, which is led by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), up from 3,936 for all 2016.

    Average monthly clashes between the warring sides have increased by 56 percent from last year, the figures also showed.

    “[We are concerned by] the increasing impact on the civilian population, particularly in terms of civilian casualties, fresh displacement and deteriorating conditions,” said Shabia Mantoo, UNHCR spokesperson for Yemen.

    Yemen’s nearly 30-month-old civil war pits President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Saudi-backed government, which controls south and eastern Yemen, against the Houthis, who control the more populated north and eastern parts of the country.

    The conflict shows no sign of ending and U.N.-sponsored peace efforts remain deadlocked.

    The report did not identify any party as being responsible for the airstrikes, but the Saudi-led coalition backing Hadi has controlled Yemeni airspace since the war began in March 2015.

    U.S. forces have also conducted occasional airstrikes or raids using drones.

    A coalition spokesman declined to comment on the report.

    Civilian casualties

    Most clashes and air strikes have been concentrated in frontline provinces, including Taiz, Saada, Hajjah, Sanaa, al-Jawf and Marib, the report said.

    The United Nations has put the death toll since the war began in March 2015 at more than 10,000.

    Figures released in a periodic update issued in August by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with input from other aid agencies in Yemen, estimated the civilian death toll as of April 2017 at 8,053, with more than 45,000 injured, but the real figures could be much higher.

    “[The figures are considered] to significantly undercount the true extent of the casualties, considering the diminished reporting capacity at health facilities and peopleAEuros �s difficulties accessing healthcare,” the OCHA said.

    The war has destroyed much Yemeni infrastructure, including the main Hodeidah port, as well as hospitals, schools and roads, pushing the country to the verge of famine and causing a cholera epidemic that has killed some 2,000 people since April.

    The number of displaced people stands at two million, while 946,000 people are internally displaced returnees, so more than 10 percent of Yemen’s 27 million population are either displaced or facing the immediate challenges of return, the OCHA said.

    “Ongoing hostilities in Yemen, compounded by cholera and widespread food insecurity, continue to increase the humanitarian needs of an already vulnerable population,” said UNHCR’s Mantoo.

    Source: Voice of America


    GENEVA, Switzerland, The UN migrant agency, IOM, on Tuesday, said that, during the past three days, its staff continued to find more survivors, as well as, the remains of more victims from last week’s tragic incidents. A total of 280 migrants, headed t…


    SAANA, Over the past three days, the UN migration agency has found more survivors and victims’ remains from last week’s tragedy � when hundreds of migrants were forced from two boats into the sea off the coast of Yemen.

    Last week, 280 migrants heading toward Gulf countries were removed from two boats off the coast of Yemen’s Shabwa Governorate. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) found, from the first incident on 9 August, the remains of 29 people � 12 Ethiopian men, 12 Ethiopian women and five Somali men.

    The number of people still missing has reduced from 22 to six, all of whom are Ethiopian males, IOM said in a press statement.

    Through contact or from other survivors’ reports, IOM was able to account for a majority of the missing.

    This makes 35 people presumed dead from the first incident, the statement added.

    IOM provided urgent medical care, as well as food and water, to 27 survivors � 22 Ethiopian and five Somali men. While 85 people survived this incident, many others left the beach before IOM arrived to assist.

    On Thursday, 10 August, another 160 people were forced from a second boat, again off the coast of Yemen, but in a different location from the first tragedy and closer to the shore.

    That same day IOM found six bodies on the beach.

    IOM assisted 57 survivors on 10 August. Thirteen of the survivors, whom IOM had helped, returned to the beach the following day realizing that they were too weak to make the trek through the desert to Yemen’s land borders, the statement continued.

    On 11 August, IOM and local people found another four and on 12 August, another two. The current total number of confirmed dead from the second incident is 12 � eight Ethiopian males and four Ethiopian females.

    In the immediate aftermath of the smugglers’ actions during the second incident, 13 people were missing. Only six people remain missing and so, 18 are now presumed dead, continued the statement.

    On 13 August, IOM located five more survivors and assisted them with medical support, food and water. In total, IOM aided 65 people who survived the second incident � 62 Ethiopian males and three Ethiopian females. Some 142 people survived the second incident and, as on the previous day, people left the beach before IOM arrived.

    Of the 280 people forced into Yemen’s rough seas on both mornings, 226 survived, 41 were confirmed dead and 12 remain missing, according to IOM.

    The total number of presumed dead is currently 53.

    Due to the security situation in the country, the migration routes through Yemen are constantly changing.

    The surviving Ethiopian and Somali migrants left IOM’s care and are most likely making their way to Yemen’s borders with the Gulf countries � a journey which takes a week or more depending on the route.

    IOM will continue to patrol Yemen’s beaches to provide assistance to migrants in distress and to search for the migrants still missing, concluded the statement of the UN migration agency.


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