Heavy clashes between rival militias has left at least 185 people dead and wounded 1,200 others in Yemen's port city of Aden, a medical official told the AFP Saturday.
Despite the toll coming from the latest battles between warring militias in the ciy, the medical official believes some two thirds of Aden's casualties are civilians.
The last stronghold for embattled Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Aden has been a strategic battleground for Shiite Houthi rebels and the pro-government militias trying to restore Hadi's control on the ground with help from Saudi-led coalition air power above.
Aden Health Department Director Al-Kheder Lassouar told the news agency the casualty and injury count came from local hospitals that began tracking the numbers on March 26 and refers only to casualties that occured as a result of militia clashes in Aden. It does not include Houthi casualties, or those of their allies, the director explained, as they often do not bring their injured to public hospitals. It also excludes deaths from the Saudi-led airstrikes in the country.
Under the weight of a mounting death and injury toll, Lassouar said the city's hospitals were in immediate need of international assistance and supplies.
A UN count given Thursday estimates some 519 people have died and almost 1,700 wounded across the war-torn country in the last two weeks, but did not specify whether the number also included fighters.
Since Saudi Arabia launched its air campaign against the Houthis on March 26, international powers have voiced concern about the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the country. The International Red Cross said Saturday three aid and medical staff shipments have been blocked from entering Yemen by Saudi's coalition, Reuters reported, which is currently in control of the war-torn nation's air space and port access.
The international aid organization is seeking secure air space for two planes carrying bulk medical supplies and medical and water sanitation items to the capital Sanaa, in addition to a boat to tranfer a surgical team to Aden. The group says Saudi and its allies have so far blocked their efforts. Fellow aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres has made similar claims against the coalition, saying restictions on Yemeni air space and port access has prevented them from delivering vital medical supplies to civilians trapped between the warring groups across the chaotic country.
The claims come on the heels of a Russian push for humanitarian pauses in the Saudi air campaign to minimize the crushing blow to civilian lives the deepening crisis has caused so far. The 15-member UN Security Council will meet Saturday in the US to discuss Russia's request.
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