After accessing the city of Al-Duraihimi under fire, the aid workers were prevented from meeting with civilians and wounded prisoners of war

Red Cross aid convoy reaches besieged Hodeidah town at the mercy of the Houthis

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Yemen confirmed Wednesday that a day earlier it was able to bring humanitarian aid to the city of Al-Duraihimi in southern Hodeidah governorate, which has been blockaded by Houthi forces since mid-2018.

Houthis obstructed and delayed the distribution of the latest aid shipment–consisting of food, water, shelter materials and medicine–and prevented UN staff from meeting civilians and prisoners of war in the district, Yemeni military sources told Almasdar Online.

The Giants Brigades (Al-Amaliqa) were able to facilitate the secure passage of the ICRC convoy into Al-Duraihimi, according to Wadhah Dubaish, spokesman for the UAE-backed joint forces umbrella group that consists of the Giants Brigade, the Guardians of the Republic and the Tihama Resistance. Safe passage was apparently made possible after the UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths and the head of the UN Mission in Hodeidah, Indian Lt. Gen. Abhjeet Goha, pressured the Houthis. 

The aid convoy initially came under fire from the Houthis, causing the truck drivers to flee, Al-Dubaish said. When they were eventually allowed into the city, he added, the UN team accompanying the convoy was subjected to "harassment and assault" by the Houthis and prevented from coming into contact with civilians and wounded prisoners of war.

A military official with the joint forces in Al-Duraihimi confirmed to Almasdar Online that the UN team had been attacked, harassed and barred from meeting besieged civilians, based on reports he received early Wednesday morning from the UN.

Natalie Bekdash, ICRC spokeswoman for the Sanaa office of the aid organization, neither confirmed nor denied these reports. "Despite all the difficulties, we have been able to bring aid to Duraihimi," she said.

In addition to delivering aid, the ICRC’s mission involves evacuating civilians trapped in Al-Duraihimi. However, having been prevented from coming into contact with them, the ICRC and UN teams have been unable to implement that part of the plan. 

In October, the World Food Programme announced that it was able to deliver food aid to Al-Duraihimi for the second time, the first time being in June.

The city of Al-Duraihimi has been under siege since the Yemeni military took control of large parts of the district in mid-2018. Since then, the Houthis and Yemeni forces have exchanged mutual accusations of using the city’s civilians as human shields and holding them hostage. The Houthis have barred humanitarian access to Al-Duraihimi on several occasions. 

Occasionally, UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths addresses Al-Duraihami in his reports to the UN Security Council, suggesting that the siege be lifted in good faith as a step in the right direction in support of the Stockholm agreement that prevented a messy war centered on the port city of Hodeidah. The Stockholm agreement was signed in December 2018 with much fanfare, but has accomplished very little since then.  

A report by the UN Human Rights Council’s group of experts blames the Houthis and Yemeni forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition for the crisis and the siege imposed on the residents of Al-Duraihimi.



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