Government denies authenticity of ICRC’s scores war aftermath [Archives:2008/1180/Front Page]

August 11 2008

SA'ADA, Aug. 10 ) An official source in the Sa'ada governorate's local authority denied the authenticity of a statement released by International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Friday the 8th, which claimed that thousands of displaced residents are still living in tents in various areas around the region as a result of previous fighting between the Yemeni army and Houthi supporters.

The source told that most of the civilians who were forced to flee their homes as a result of the bloody clashes in Sa'ada have returned home following President Ali Abdullah Saleh's declaration that “military operations in Sa'ada are over.”

“There are only a small number of displaced citizens, who are still waiting for safety measures to ensure their safe homecoming,” reported

Other sources indicated that the relevant government agencies have been expending much effort to ensure and facilitate the homecoming of displaced residents since military operations ceased. They added that these agencies are providing relief aid and necessities for those who are still living in temporary encampments.

According to the sources, the Sa'ada local authorities are providing facilities to any humanitarian organization with a desire to help. The groups are specifically working to provide aid and shelter for those residents affected by the war. “These humanitarian organizations include ICRC, which sorrowfully exaggerated the number of displaced residents as a result of the fighting,” the source said.

On Friday, ICRC released a statement that said that its aid workers faced difficulty in reaching needy people uprooted by the conflict in northern Yemen. “Insecurity and fierce fighting in the northern governorates of Yemen have had a dramatic effect on the civilian population in recent months, forcing more people to flee the area,” said the statement.

The ICRC estimated that 15,500 displaced people are living in difficult conditions in camps near Sa'ada city, and that thousands more are scattered around hard-to-access areas.

“The lack of clean water and medical care is particularly serious for the displaced, the sick, the wounded, and isolated communities,” the ICRC said, warning that safety issues were preventing its workers from responding to humanitarian needs.

“Except in Sa'ada city and its immediate vicinity, it remains difficult or impossible for the ICRC to operate in the conflict zones of northern Yemen,” said the ICRC's statement.

To respond to the increasing needs of more than 100,000 people directly affected by the conflict, in May 2008, the ICRC appealed for additional funds to step up the provision of food, water, shelter, essential household items and medical care in all areas of Sa'ada governorate.

However, the security situation has often prevented the ICRC from responding to the most urgent humanitarian needs in a timely and adequate manner. Working closely with the Yemen Red Crescent Society (YRCS), the ICRC has so far only provided basic emergency assistance, mainly to displaced persons in camps close to the city.

Houthis agree to end clashes

Last Friday, the Yemeni government and Houthi supporters reached an agreement to end the ongoing fighting between both sides. The Houthis' field leader, Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, in a letter to the government, announced plans to adhere to the peace deal.

In the letter, first reported by the, the news source affiliated with the Yemeni Army, Al-Houthi said he was “committed to the 10 points set out by President Saleh for an end to fighting.”

Addressed to Saleh, the letter formally ends the long-running conflict in which more than 4,000 people have been killed in the country's northwestern Sa'ada province, in surrounding governates and in Bani Hushaish, a tribal region outside of Sana'a city.

The plan established a cease-fire and mandates that Houthi followers must disarm themselves, among other stipulations.

Women protest against detention of male relatives

Dozens of women whose husbands, sons, fathers, brothers or relatives were detained over alleged connections to Abdulmalik Al-Houthi during his fight with the army, protested in front of the Presidential Palace against continued detention of their relatives.

During the sit-in that took place during last weekend, the female protesters recited verses from the Holy Quran. They exchanged accusations and quarreled with the Republican Guard Members in charge of safeguarding the Presidential Palace.