Sa’ada humanitarian situation remains tense [Archives:2007/1080/Front Page]

August 27 2007

Mohammed Bin Sallam
SA'ADA, August 26 ) An official source from the presidential committee supervising implementation of the Sa'ada ceasefire agreement denied media reports of resumed confrontations between army forces and Houthis. According to the source, reported, “There are not any confrontations. Dialogue is still going on between the committee and Houthi loyalists.”

However, local sources revealed that confrontations continue in intervals throughout many areas of Sa'ada, including the exchange of gunfire between the two sides early Thursday morning into the evening.

Officials and political activists revealed that the humanitarian situation in Sa'ada is still tense. Displaced families remain unable to return to their homes despite signing of the peace agreement.

The International Islamic Agency reported, “Relief organizations sent humanitarian assistances to displaced families who could not return to their homes in Sa'ada after the war. The International Committee of the Red Cross cooperated with the Yemeni Red Crescent to assist 37,100 displaced over the last few months.” Assistance included distribution of carpets, water containers, blankets, washing equipment, in addition to medication for health centers.

The agency added, “Displaced families live with host families in secure areas inside Sa'ada and its surroundings. However, some families escaped to areas close to the Yemeni-Saudi borders.”

The Social Democratic Forum, an NGO, reported difficulty in accessing and assisting needy citizens. According to Abdul-Hafeedh from The Civil Society Coalition, a group of NGOs, the coalition prepared a relief caravan to provide humanitarian assistance to displaced families, but was refused license by the government.

The central committee of the Yemeni Socialist Party revealed their continued opposition to the Sa'ada war and its resultant bloodshed. The committee thanked Qatar and the presidential cease-fire committee for their mediation efforts and encouraged both parties to continue. It also suggested the formation of a national committee to tackle the impacts and consequences of the war.

The committee urged withdrawal of the army from citizen villages and farms. It also suggested the quick relief of thousands of displaced and facilitating their return home as well as releasing hundreds of citizens detained due to the Sa'ada war.

The foreign affairs minister, Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi, reported that the government anticipates Houthi loyalists will descend from mountains to ensure that the crisis is over.

“The government along with the mediation committee will remain in a prospective situation for what is happening in Sa'ada. Houthis will descend from mountains and return to their homes, handing over their weapons as per the reached agreement,” he stated, adding, “The president as well as the government are taking care to end the war soon in Sa'ada so they can begin relief measures, including in the disadvantaged areas of Sa'ada. The most important steps are those that serve the best interest of the country.”

Eleven men detained in connection with the Sa'ada conflict urged human rights organizations to vouch for their immediate release or prosecution. In a written appeal, the detainees revealed they have been held in the political security jail in Thamar since mid-last month without charge. They denied any relation with the Sa'ada war, stating, “We are peace-lovers and believe in the principles of justice and freedom.”