Thousands flee as fighting rages between government and Houthis

Thousands of Yemenis in Marib province and Nehim district, near Sanaa, have been displaced as fighting rages between government forces and the Iran-backed Houthis, a local human rights organization and aid workers said on Wednesday.

As many as 1,484 families have fled their homes in Majazer district in northern Marib, and 1,870 families have deserted Al-Khaneq camp in Nehim, according to Yemen’s National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms (HOOD).

HOOD urged local and international organizations, and authorities in Marib and Sanaa, to provide the displaced with food, shelter, drinking water and medication.

Aid workers who visited displaced people in Marib said they are enduring miserable conditions and are sleeping out in the open amid a harsh winter.

Locals said people carrying belongings in pickup trucks and on foot are still heading to the city.

Abdul Khaliq bin Mousalem, director of Eitilaf Al-Khair’s office in Marib, said the aid organization has set up 50 camps and provided blankets to the displaced. It will set up 250 camps when local authorities allocate the necessary land, he added.

Eitilaf Al-Khair is an umbrella group of local charities that provides aid on behalf of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief).

“People are in desperate need of humanitarian aid. The priority should be building shelters,” Bin Mousalem told Arab News, adding that Al-Khaneq camp was deserted after it was shelled.

“People escaped to Marib with clothes and valuables, leaving behind less important things. The number of displaced people is big, and all aid organizations should quickly support them.”

Due to its stability and location, the city of Marib has been hosting tens of thousands of displaced people since late 2014, when the Houthi militia seized Sanaa.

The displacement from Nehim and Marib province comes as government forces press their offensive, under air cover from Saudi-led coalition warplanes, in an attempt to recapture territories seized by the Houthis in recent days.

Yemen’s Defense Ministry said the army traded mortar fire with the Houthis, and coalition warplanes pounded their locations in the mountainous Nehim district.

Defense Minister Mohammed Al-Maqdadhi and Abdul Hamid Al-Muzayni, commander of the Saudi-led coalition in Marib, visited the frontlines in Nehim, the ministry’s official news site reported.

They met the newly appointed commander of the 7th Military Region, Ahmad Hassan Jebran, and soldiers.

Al-Maqdadhi said the army’s military operations in Nehim and elsewhere will continue until the Houthis are defeated.

In the southern city of Taiz, government troops recaptured a number of hilly locations on its western edges.

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