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Yemen: Houthis expand presence in Amran amid humanitarian crisis - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Yemeni soldier mans a checkpoint on a road leading to the city of Amran, some 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of the capital Sana’a, on July 9, 2014. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Huwais)

A Yemeni soldier mans a checkpoint on a road leading to the city of Amran, some 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of the capital Sana’a, on July 9, 2014. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Huwais)

Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s Shi’a Houthi militia has expanded its control in the northern province of Amran, storming government and military institutions in the area despite international condemnation.

Yemen’s Houthi militia captured the city of Amran and its environs on Tuesday, less than a week after the collapse of a ceasefire between the Shi’a group and the Yemeni army and allied Sunni tribal militias collapsed. The ceasefire had initially been reached on June 23 but quickly broke down with both sides blaming the other.

The Houthi militia reportedly killed more than 200 people when capturing the city of Amran and has since begun targeted security infrastructure and officers remaining in the city.

More than 35,000 people have been displaced from the northern Yemeni province by the fighting, the government’s refugee agency reported on Wednesday in an urgent appeal to international relief organizations for greater assistance.

“Based on the monitoring and follow-up that we have been doing, there are more than 35,000 people that have left [Amran city] for other areas in Amran [province] or to the greater Sana’a area, Hajjah and Mashaweet,” head of the government refugee agency Mutahhar Yahya Abu Sheeha said.

“We direct this urgent appeal to help these families and to provide emergency help to ensure basic needs of shelter and food and medical aid, and to help rescue these trapped families,” he added.

Yemen’s cabinet met in Sana’a on Wednesday to discuss the crisis. The government condemned the Houthi militia’s “aggressions” in Amran, saying it would have negative effects on the security and stability of the country as a whole.

“We hold the Houthis legally and morally responsible for what is happening in Amran and the implications of this on the security and stability of the homeland,” a cabinet statement said, calling on the Shi’a militia to put down its weapons and exit the city.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) condemned the “armed aggression” of the Houthis in the city of Amran, holding the Shi’a militia responsible for violating the June 23 ceasefire.

GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani issued a statement saying that the Houthis bore “full responsibility” for the conflict in the area, calling for the Yemeni people and the international community to work together to ensure Yemeni security and stability.

Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi received a telephone call on Wednesday from UN Envoy Jamal Benomar during which he confirmed the UN Security Council’s “condemnation of the act of aggression and attacks committed by the Houthi group on government buildings, camps and public and private properties, as well as its terrorizing of innocent citizens and not abiding by the ceasefire agreement,” according to Yemen’s state SABA news agency.

Also on Wednesday, the UK strongly condemned the armed clashes in the northern province between the Houthi militia and the Yemeni military and allied Sunni tribesmen. The British Foreign Office issued a statement expressing “concern” about the fighting in the city, urging all parties to end the hostilities and confirming the British government’s full support for its Yemeni counterpart.

The British Foreign Office statement came in response to a report by the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Johannes Van Der Klaauw, warning about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Amran.

“All parties to the conflict have a responsibility to make sure that civilians are spared from the fighting and that those who are affected by conflict are able to move to more secure areas,” Van Der Klaauw said in a statement on Wednesday.