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Fighting unabated as Yemen falls apart

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07 April 2015

Fierce clashes raged today between rebels and loyalists in southern Yemen, leaving more than 140 dead in 24 hours, as the Red Cross faced delays to urgently needed aid deliveries.

Relief workers have warned of a dire situation in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, where a Saudi-led coalition is waging war on Iran-backed Houthi Shiite rebels.

The bloodiest fighting occurred between rebels and loyalists of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in the main southern city of Aden, officials said.

Yemen, strategically located near key shipping routes and bordering oil-rich Saudi Arabia, is sinking deeper into a multi-sided civil conflict.

The fighting has drawn in an array of armed groups including the Houthis, pro-Hadi militia, army units, southern separatists, Sunni tribes and al-Qaeda.

The Red Cross has appealed for an immediate truce to facilitate aid deliveries and has called for all land, air and sea routes to be immediately opened to allow the delivery of 48 tonnes of medical supplies the organisation has ready to treat up to 3,000 wounded.

The situation is particularly dire in Aden, where some neighbourhoods have had no electricity or water in days.

The Red Cross has been trying to fly emergency supplies into Sanaa but the plane is still stuck on the tarmac.

The UN children's agency said on Tuesday that more than 1,00,000 people in Yemen have left their homes in search of safety and at least 74 children have been killed since fighting in the country intensified almost two weeks ago.

UNICEF said the violence has disrupted water supplies in areas of southern Yemen and that sewage is overflowing in some locations, raising the risk of disease outbreak.

Hospitals are struggling to treat large numbers of wounded with insufficient supplies and some medical facilities have come under attack, the agency. It said at least three health workers, including an ambulance driver, have been killed in attacks.

Children are especially vulnerable, said the agency's Yemen representative, Julien Harneis.

"They are being killed, maimed and forced to flee their homes, their health threatened and their education interrupted," Harneis said in a statement, released on Tuesday in Amman, Jordan.

The agency said at least 74 children have been killed and 44 wounded since 26 March, when a Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen's Shiite rebels and their allies began.

(Also see:  26 countries ask for Indian help to rescue citizens from Yemen)





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