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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

33 Somali immigrants killed in airstrike off Yemen western coast

ADEN, Yemen (Xinhua) -- About 30 African immigrants including women, were killed in an airstrike launched by suspected Saudi-led helicopters on their boat on the western coast of Yemen, a security official told Xinhua Friday.

The local Yemeni official based in the Houthi-controlled western port city of Hodyada said that a boat carrying more than 30 African immigrants including women from Somalia all died in the aerial bombardment by helicopters that occurred late on Thursday.

Most of the immigrants were coming back voluntarily from Yemen and heading towards Sudan, Somalia and other African countries, the security source said.

He added that scores of others managed to escape and have been rescued after the attack.

Other local sources said that a number of Yemeni fishermen were killed when the same warplanes struck their boat near Yemen’s Red Sea Coast.

During the past few weeks, the Saudi-led Arab coalition intensified airstrikes on areas along Yemen’s Red Sea Coast in an apparent attempt to support Yemeni government forces to kick the Shiite Houthi group out of the port city of Hodyada.

Yemen has been suffering from a civil war and a Saudi-led military intervention for around two years. The civil war began after the Houthi militants with support from forces loyal to the former president ousted the UN-backed transitional government and occupied capital Sanaa militarily in September 2014.

The legitimate government controls the south and some eastern parts, while the Houthi-Saleh alliance controls the other parts including the capital Sanaa.

The UN has sponsored peace talks between the warring factions several times, but the factions failed to reach common ground.

The civil war, ground battles and airstrikes have already killed more than 10,000 people, half of them civilians, injured more than 35,000 others and displaced over two million, according to humanitarian agencies.
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UPDATES:

33 Somali refugees killed in airstrike on boat off Yemen

SANAA Somalia (Xinhua) -- At least 33 Somali refugees were killed and 29 others wounded when a total of 150 refugees traveling in a boat off the Yemeni coast came under an air attack, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Sanaa said on Friday.

The ICRC "is shocked by last night’s attack on a civilian ship carrying around 150 passengers, including women and children, near the port of Hodeida," it said in an emailed statement.

The attack left 33 dead and 29 wounded, while other passengers are either still missing or under the care of local authorities, the ICRC said.

"It was a heartbreaking scene. I saw many men, women and children either killed or horribly wounded," said Eric Christopher Wyss from the ICRC.

"Survivors told us that many of the passengers were refugees from Somalia or Yemen, fleeing conflict," he added.

Houthi-controlled Saba news agency reported that the Somali refugees came under an air attack late night of Thursday, blaming a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia which is having tight control of the Red Sea and the Strait of Bab al-Mandeb off the western Yemeni coasts.

There was no comment by the coalition forces yet.

A spokesperson of the International Immigration Organization office in Sanaa, Sheba al-Muallimy, told Xinhua that the organization has no hand in coordination Thursday night’s journey of the Somali refugees.

Al-Muallimy said the organization has learnt very late that the Somali refugees were travelling to Sudan, escaping the conflict here in Yemen.

Xinhua conducted the UNHCR Refugees Agency in Sanaa for comment, but the office in Sanaa said no official is on duty at the weekend.

Houthis have been controlling north of Yemen, including Hodeida, after they ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in late 2014.

In March 2015, a coalition of Arab armies led by Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen’s conflict to back Hadi troops against Houthi fighters, who have seized control of most of the northern Yemen, including Sanaa, to restore power to Hadi.

The coalition forces have been imposing tight control over the Red Sea and strategic strait of Bab al-Mandab which links the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden.

The war has killed more than 10,000 Yemeni people, half of them civilians, and displaced over two millions, according to humanitarian agencies.
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IOM confirms deadly attack on refugee boat off Yemen

GENEVA Switzerland (Xinhua) -- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Friday that 31 Somalis reportedly lost their lives in an alleged helicopter attack on a refugee boat late on Thursday.

"Our people said they know that Somalis were killed in ‘an attack,’ they do not know if it was a helicopter," IOM spokesman Joel Millman told the press here.

"The press is reporting that it was a helicopter, and apparently coastguard officials have confirmed it," he added.

Millman confirmed that the vessel "was full of Somalis" and that over 80 survivors were rescued. He warned however that the death toll could be higher since 24 of those saved are in critical conditions.

It remains unclear who carried out the attack on the vessel which was believed to be bound for Sudan after setting off from the Yemeni town of Houdaydah.
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Saudi-led coalition intercepts three boats of Houthis

RIYADH Saudi Arabia (Xinhua) -- Saudi-led coalition has intercepted three boats of Houthis near Midi port in Yemen trying to attack the coalition’s vessels, Al Madina local newspaper reported on Friday.

The incident was reported on Thursday night, in which the coalition destroyed one boat, arrest the crew of the second, while the third boat managed to escaped.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Press Agency reported that the royal Saudi air defense forces intercepted a missile launched by the Houthis militia, targeting Jizan city at the Saudi-Yemeni border.

Coalition statement said that a missile launched from inside the Yemeni territories was intercepted and destroyed by the Saudi forces Friday.

In addition, the coalition air force pinpointed the launching ground of the missile and, immediately, retaliated by airstrikes.
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UN refugee agency "appalled" by attack on refugee boat off Yemen

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Friday said that it was "appalled by the deaths of refugees" after a boat carrying them across the Red Sea from Yemen to Sudan was reportedly attacked overnight on Thursday.

A UN spokesman told reporters here at a daily news briefing that although details were still unconfirmed, "it appears that a number of Somali refugees were among those killed or injured."

Meanwhile, the conflict in Yemen is continuing along the Taizz governorate’s western coast and has now moved into areas adjacent to southern Hudaydah governorate’s coastal districts, the spokesman noted.

As of March 10, the fighting has resulted in the displacement of more than 48,000 people, who have largely sought shelter in more secure areas of Taizz and Hudaydah, he said.

"Humanitarian partners have so far provided direct, in-kind relief to nearly 120,000 people, including internally displaced people, host communities and residents of affected areas."

"In addition, partners are supporting critical services through assistance to local water networks and health facilities, as well as offering protection," he said.

"Access to the most affected areas of Taizz remains challenging due to ongoing clashes and movement restrictions imposed by parties to the conflict."

Over the past two years, intense fighting has been going on between Saudi-backed government forces and Shiite Houthi rebels in western Yemen.

In September 2014, Houthi rebels, with support from forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, ousted the UN-backed transitional government and seized Sanaa, the capital.

Latest UN figures showed that deliberate war tactics are accelerating the collapse of key institutions and the economy, thereby leaving some 18 million people, more than two thirds of the population, in need of humanitarian assistance.

An estimated 10 million people are acutely affected and need some form of immediate humanitarian assistance to save and sustain their lives, including food, health and medical services, clean water, sanitation and protection, according to UN figures.
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29 killed in pro-Houthi strike on mosque in Yemen

ADEN, Yemen (Xinhua) -- About 29 pro-government soldiers were killed and 89 others injured when missiles fired by Shiite Houthi gunmen struck a mosque in Yemen’s northern province of Marib on Friday, a military official told Xinhua.

According to the local official, the pro-Houthi forces fired ballistic missiles and struck the mosque inside a military base of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government forces in Marib.

Witnesses said that huge fire and smokes were seen rising from the Kowfal military camp where the attack happened and many ambulances rushed to the area.

An army commander in Marib province said that the missile attack occurred while scores of soldiers gathered to perform Friday prayers inside the mosque.

The oil-producing northern province of Marib is controlled by Yemen’s legitimate government and thousands of Saudi-backed Yemeni government forces stationed there.

The Shiite Houthi group repeatedly fire ballistic missiles against government-controlled provinces but most of the attacks were aborted by air defense systems of the Saudi-led coalition.

Yemen has been suffering from a civil war and a Saudi-led military intervention for around two years.

The civil war began after the Houthi militants, with support from forces loyal to the former president, ousted the UN-backed transitional government and occupied capital Sanaa militarily in September 2014.

The legitimate government controls the south and some eastern parts, while the Houthi-Saleh alliance controls the other parts including the capital Sanaa.

The UN has sponsored peace talks between warring factions several times, but the factions failed to reach common ground.

The civil war, ground battles and airstrikes have already killed more than 10,000 people, half of them civilians, injured more than 35,000 others and displaced over two millions, according to humanitarian agencies.
.

EARLIER REPORT:

Continued fight causes civilian deaths, displacement in Yemen, UN says

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The United Nations is concerned about the escalation of fighting between Yemeni government forces and the Houthi combatants that has now reached Hudaydah governorate, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters here Thursday.

"The continued fighting is resulting in the killing and displacement of civilians and is having a significant impact on the humanitarian situation," Dujarric said at a daily news briefing.

Following the fight in and around Mokha, displacing 48,000 people, a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in Khokha town on March 10 killed at least 15 civilians, including three children and injured eight others.

"The UN reiterates that civilians and civilian property are protected under international humanitarian law," the spokesman said.

Survey results released on Wednesday highlight that there are currently 17 million people facing hunger, representing a 20 percent increase since June 2016, he said.

"At present, ports of Yemen must remain open, including Hudaydah port, to allow for both commercial and humanitarian vessels to import much needed food and fuel to avert a famine," Dujarric added.

On Feb. 8, the United Nations and humanitarian partners launched an international appeal on Wednesday for 2.1 billion U.S. dollars to provide life-saving assistance to 12 million people in Yemen in 2017.

Since March 2015, violent conflict between two factions claiming to constitute the Yemeni government has created a vast crisis in Yemen and millions of people face threats to their safety and basic human rights.

Latest UN figures showed that deliberate war tactics are accelerating the collapse of key institutions and the economy, thereby leaving some 18 million people, more than two thirds of the population, in need of humanitarian assistance.

An estimated 10 million people are acutely affected and need some form of immediate humanitarian assistance to save and sustain their lives, including food, health and medical services, clean water, sanitation and protection, according to UN figures.

Nearly 3.3 million people, including 2.1 million children, are acutely malnourished while 2 million people remain internally displaced.

           

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