Airstrikes in yemen: at least 30 people killed

Near a town controlled by Huthi rebels, airstrikes killed at least 30 people. War refugees were also among the victims, he said.

A boy walks along a house destroyed by airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen Photo: dpa

At least 30 people were killed in air strikes in Yemen on Wednesday, according to aid organizations. As the chairman of the Red Crescent in Yemen’s Sanaa, Hussein al-Tawil, reported, war refugees were also among the victims.

The Saba news agency, controlled by the Shiite Huthi rebels, blamed the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition for the attack near the capital and reported 71 dead. This could not initially be confirmed by officials.

According to eyewitnesses, a residential building with workers from a nearby Kat plantation was hit in the attacks. In Saudi Arabia, consumption of the Yemeni daily drug is strictly prohibited.

Since March 2015, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been flying airstrikes against Huthi rebels seeking to topple Yemen’s President Abd Rabbo Mansur Hadi. Extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) are taking advantage of the conflict to expand their power in the country. Because of the conflict, Yemen is facing a humanitarian crisis.

Yemen unable to provide supplies

Meanwhile, thousands of refugees from Africa continue to be stranded in Yemen on their way to Saudi Arabia or the Gulf states, according to the United Nations. "Despite the ongoing conflict, the UN estimates that 10,000 migrants arrive in Yemen per month," said Olivia Headon of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva.

"Most of the new arrivals are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection," she added. The refugees are coming across the Red Sea – mainly from Ethiopia and the civil-war country of Somalia, she said. Some 1.7 million to 2 million refugees and migrants are in Yemen, including more than 300,000 asylum seekers, according to the IOM expert.

Yemen is unable to provide basic services to the people, she said. The new arrivals, she said, are not only at risk from war-related violence and hunger, but also face massive extortion, kidnapping and violence from smugglers and criminal gangs. "We are helping many injured migrants in Yemen get medical treatment," the IOM expert said. The deaths of more than 100 refugees had been recorded, but the actual number was likely much higher.

Smugglers are "major threat"

Asked whether more Africans will make their way across the Red Sea following the blockade of Libyan waters in the Mediterranean, Headon said only that without major changes in the Horn of Africa, the number of new arrivals in Yemen is expected to remain high.

She described the traffickers, who could be particularly ruthless given the war in the Arab country, as a major threat. "When they can’t squeeze any more money out of the migrants, they want to get rid of them by violent means," Headon said. Two weeks ago, smugglers drove some 180 refugees from a boat into the Red Sea, drowning more than 100 people.

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