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ICRC, MSF blast Saudi attacks on Yemen’s lifelines

5 May 2015 8:19


The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the medical charity group, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have expressed “extreme” concern about the Saudi airstrikes on Yemen’s lifelines and its obstruction of aid deliveries to the impoverished nation.

The leading Geneva-based humanitarian institution and the French-founded medical charity group – known in English as Doctors Without Borders – released a joint statement on Monday, condemning the Saudi war on Yemen.

The statement said Saudi strikes on the airports in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a and the strategic Red Sea city of Hudeida caused severe damage, “obstructing delivery of much-needed humanitarian assistance and movement of humanitarian personnel.”

The International Red Cross and the MSF also said the disruption of Yemen’s key logistic infrastructure, such as airports, sea ports, bridges and roads, “are having alarming consequences on the civilian population, and the humanitarian situation has now become catastrophic.”

“Sana’a airport was an essential civilian infrastructure, and the main lifeline to supply essential humanitarian goods and services,” said Cedric Schweizer, who heads a team of 250 ICRC staff in Yemen.

The ICRC official also said that “harsh restrictions” on imports to Yemen, along with “the extreme fuel shortages, have made the daily lives of Yemenis unbearable, and their suffering immense.”

Meanwhile, Marie Elisabeth Ingres, who heads the MSF mission in Yemen, stated that “the destruction of Sana’a runway means that countless lives are now more at risk,” adding, “We can no longer afford to stand and watch as people are forced to drink unsafe water and children die of preventable causes.”

The two international humanitarian organizations also called for an end to the attacks on Yemen’s “vital lifelines” and to allow the Yemeni civil aviation authority to receive “the chance to repair the airports, so that humanitarian assistance can be sent” to the country.

The organizations further demanded “that robust and unobstructed channels for the provision of humanitarian assistance be opened and respected by all parties to the conflict.”

The statement comes as Saudi Arabia on April 28 forced an Iranian cargo plane with some 10 tonnes of medicines and 13 doctors for the crisis-hit people in Yemen to return. The Iranian aircraft was unable to land at the Sana’a airport, as Saudi warplanes were pounding the runway of the civil airport.

Saudi Arabia started its military aggression against Yemen on March 26 – without a UN mandate – in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and to restore power to the country’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh.

The Saudis claim the airstrikes only target military positions. However, reports show civilians and infrastructure in civilian areas are being attacked.

In a recent report, Human Rights Watch said evidence shows Saudi Arabia has used cluster munitions in the northern province of Sa’ada in recent weeks.

The Saudi military campaign has claimed the lives of over 1,000 people so far and injured several thousand more.

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