11/22/2017, 14.33
YEMEN
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Yemen disaster: Aden’s Christian cemetery desecrated, Vicar of Arabia says

People unknown knocked down crosses and tombstones, including those of Mother Teresa's nuns, killed in March 2016. For Mgr Hinder, this is serious, confirming the country’s “ongoing difficult situation and violence." The Saudi blockade puts at risk “the survival of people”.

Sana'a (AsiaNews) – In recent days "the Christian cemetery in Aden was desecrated," including the tombs of the Sisters of Mother Teresa killed during the attack against the retirement home they ran, said Mgr Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia (UAE, Oman and Yemen), speaking to AsiaNews.

The economic, social and humanitarian situation in Yemen is disastrous, the prelate noted. For some groups, things are "particularly problematic" with "different imperatives" in different parts of the country. What is more, for Mgr Hinder, the blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia is a "major problem".

"The attack on the Christian cemetery in Aden occurred two nights ago,” Mgr Hinder noted. “The attackers, whose identity is still unknown, damaged crosses and tombs," including the tombs of the four Sisters of Mother Teresa killed on 4 March 2016 during an attack by a local extremist group.

Only one nun managed to survive the attack during which the terrorists abducted  Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, an Indian Salesian missionary in Yemen. The clergymen was released only recently after a long captivity, also thanks to the intervention of Omani officials.

"This is not the first time that such a thing happens, but the damage to a cemetery is a serious thing. Of course, such episodes of violence do not only affect Christians, but they confirm the ongoing difficult situation and violence."

Since January 2015, the Arab country has been involved in a bloody civil war opposing the Sunni administration of former President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, backed by Saudi Arabia, and Houthi Shia rebels, close to Iran and Hezbollah.

In March of the same year, a Saudi-led Arab coalition launched air strikes against the rebels, which the United Nations criticised because of the casualties they caused, including civilians and children.

UN sources have put the number of dead at almost 9,000, 60 per cent civilians, and 45,000 wounded. Some 20 million Yemenis (out of 28) need humanitarian aid to survive. At least seven million are on the brink of famine, with 2.3 million malnourished children.

Making matters worse, the country has been hit by the worst cholera outbreak in the world, which, according to the International Red Cross, has already affected 900,000 people.

The already critical situation has been made worse by a land, sea and air blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia two weeks ago, which is preventing the arrival of food and humanitarian aid.

NGO Médecins sans frontiers (Doctors without Borders) has slammed Saudi Arabia for sealing its borders, thus aggravating the suffering of an already exhausted population.

International NGOs and groups have sounded the alarm of a possible "unprecedented deterioration" of the food situation. About 80 per cent of the country’s food is imported and Yemenis cannot survive without foreign aid.

"One of the main problems is represented by the blockade that prevents aid, whether food or medicines, from entering,” Mgr Hinder explained. “We need to act to provide humanitarian assistance, which is vital for the survival of the population." (DS)

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