Despite reported clashes, mediation efforts continue [Archives:2007/1075/Front Page]

August 9 2007

By: Mohammed bin Sallam
SA'ADA, August 8 ) Tribal sources in Sa'ada revealed there has been exchange of fire between the army and Houthi loyalists since the beginning of this week in different Sa'ada districts including Al Al-Saifi, Bani Muath, and other areas in Sahar district. No injuries were reported.

The sources added that a number of Houthi followers have been spotted over the last three days in Gharabah Mountains and Azan in Sahar district digging trenches and barricades. Additionally, cars belonging to Houthis were seen transporting building equipment to these mountains.

A report prepared by the Red Cross International Committee about the recent war in Sa'ada that lasted for over six months, highlighted the tragedy of displaced citizens, noting their straitened living conditions.

The report held Sa'ada security authorities responsible for delaying arrival of the Red Cross International Committee to Sa'ada as well as confining relief and aid to Sa'ada city and nearby areas.

Further, the committee voiced its concern over the situation of civilians affected by the war especially when their personal property was looted and their movement was restricted, together with having no access to medical services.

Meanwhile, the report mentioned that the International Committee assisted over 23,000 displaced people living in camps located on the Yemeni-Saudi border, noting that the committee distributed 965 tents, 6,307 mattresses and 25,590 blankets.

“The armed clashes caused over 5,000 families to leave their homes, while other families preferred to remain in their villages to defend their houses and property,” the report mentioned.

It added that conditions were worsened by strong winds, rain and heat as well as the increase of food and fuel prices. Further, accessing food is a problem for those whose movement is restricted by fighting.

Accessing health services also became difficult as those working in the medical field were unable to reach areas affected by the conflict. The report stressed that international law binds warring parties to protect those who do not take part in war acts and prohibits destroying provisions required to sustain human life.

A source close to the mediation committee told the media that the committee is continuing its meetings in Sana'a to discuss the scheduled implementation of remaining articles of the Sa'ada ceasefire agreement, hinting that local authorities set a 10-day deadline for implementing the remaining articles while Houthis set a 23-day deadline for the implementation.

The source further revealed that the Houthi schedule includes a withdrawal from all sites and mountains they seized, except Al-Naq'ah and Matarah.

Additionally, the source pinpointed that the army is to continue its evacuation of villages and farms belonging to Houthis according to the signed agreement, but the evacuation has been slow-occurring, thus delaying full implementation of the ceasefire agreement.