04/20/2017, 09.59

From Sana'a to Hodeida, Yemenis march to remove restrictions on humanitarian aid

A 225 km long journey. The goal is to make Hodeida a "humanitarian zone" and open an international war crimes investigation. According to the organizers, the march is not "political". US Defense Minister, visiting Riyadh, accuses the Houthi of imitating the "Hezbollah" model.


Sana'a (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A group of Yemeni demonstrators yesterday launched a 225 kilometer march from the capital Sana' to demand unrestricted humanitarian aid to a country disrupted for more than two years by a bloody war. The marchers aim to reach the port city of Hodeida on the Red Sea, which is also the Houthi capital, and the main entry point for aid to rebels.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in the Arab country against the Shiite (Iranian-Iranian) movement launched an offensive at the beginning of the year to regain the entire Yemeni coast overlooking the Red Sea, including Hodeida.

Thirty demonstrators are marching along the path that separates Sana'a from the port city, asking for the area to be declared a "humanitarian zone." "We have organized this march," explains Mahioub Hussam, one of the demonstrators, "not to be deprived of our means of survival, and to prevent the capture of Hodeida" by the pro-governmental forces. This is a "humanitarian, non-political" event, says Ezzedine Essoufi of the organizing committee.

Yesterday, dozens of people met in front of the United Nations headquarters in Sana'a to witness the departure of the demonstrators. The march should last about six days. The promoters are calling for, in addition to the delivery of aid, the reopening of the capital airport and an international war crimes investigation.

Since January 2015, Yemen has been the scene of a bloody civil war opposing the country’s Sunni elites led by former President Hadi, backed by Riyadh, and Shia Houthi rebels, who are close to Iran.

In March 2015, a Saudi-led Arab coalition began attacking the  rebels, sparking criticism from the United Nations over heavy casualties, including many children.

So far, some 10,000 people, including more than 3,700 civilians, have been killed, and at least 2.5 million have been displaced.

For Saudi Arabia, the Houthis, allied to forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, are supported militarily by Iran, a charge that Tehran rejects.

Extremist groups linked to al Qaeda and jihadist militias linked to Islamic State are active in the country, a fact that has helped escalate violence and terror.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni war was also discussed yesterday during the meeting between US Defense Minister Jim Mattis and the highest political and institutional positions in the Saudi kingdom. On an official visit to Riyadh with the aim of strengthening relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, in crisis in the last period of the previous Obama administration, the Pentagon leader launched a warning to Iran.

According to the US, Tehran is working to create a Hezbollah militia in Yemen. The American army is closely tracking the activities of the Houthi along the strait of Bab al-Mandab, a strategic area that joins the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean and international trade route.

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