Houthi rebels raid homes of political opponents, NGO workers

Published September 1st, 2015 - 08:46 GMT

Houthi rebels in Yemen’s capital have raided dozens of homes of political opponents and local NGO workers, claiming they are affiliated with ISIS and Al-Qaeda, security officials said Monday.

The officials, who are neutral in a conflict that has splintered the security forces, said the raids began a day earlier.

Pro-government forces backed by Saudi-led airstrikes have driven the Houthi rebels from much of the country’s south in recent weeks, but the rebels still hold the capital, Sanaa, which they seized nearly a year ago.

The officials said last week the Houthis detained at least 20 people, one of whom works for the UN, near the capital’s presidential palace. Houthi officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Also Monday, mortar rounds fired by the rebels killed four civilians and wounded six in Yemen’s third largest city of Taiz, medical officials and witnesses said.

The exiled Yemeni government in Saudi Arabia declared Taiz a disaster zone last week. Since then, the city’s Al-Radwah hospital has stopped admitting patients due to a severe lack of medical resources, officials at the hospital told the Associated Press, leaving Taiz with only six working hospitals out of 21.

All officials and witnesses requested anonymity because they are not authorized to brief journalists or for fear of reprisals.

Meanwhile, a major hospital in Sanaa is on the verge of shutting down due to a supply shortage caused by a pro-government coalition blockade, Save the Children has warned.

“Critical fuel shortages and a lack of medical supplies could force the Al-Sabeen Hospital to shut its doors within 48 hours,” the humanitarian organization said Sunday.

The hospital supported by Save the Children is the main facility for children and pregnant women in the area, and serves an estimated 3 million people, the organization said in a statement.

The Saudi-led coalition has imposed a blockade on areas controlled by rebels. The hospital was reliant on the Red Sea port of Hodeida for 90 percent of its imports, Save the Children said.

“The hospital has entirely run out of IV fluid, anesthetic, blood transfusion tests, Valium to treat seizures and ready-prepared therapeutic food for severely malnourished children,” the statement said citing the hospital’s deputy manager Halel al-Bahri.

Fuel that the hospital acquired from the black market was enough to run power generators for two more days, he said.

Across Yemen, 15.2 million people are lacking access to basic healthcare, an increase of 40 percent since March, the organization warned.

More than half a million children are expected to suffer severe acute malnutrition this year, and there has been a 150 percent increase in hospital admissions for malnutrition since March, it said.

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