First UN aid ship in 4 months arrives in war torn Yemen

  • AFP, Aden
  • Updated: Jul 21, 2015 20:42 IST
A boy holding a toy rifle stands at the site of a car bomb attack in Sanaa July 21, 2015. A UN aid ship arrived in Aden after four months carrying some much needed relief supplies. (Reuters Photo)

After four months of clashes between rebels and loyalist fighters a UN aid ship on Tuesday arrived in wartorn Yemen's port city of Aden bringing desperately needed relief supplies .

The humanitarian aid arrived as forces loyal to exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi pressed on with operations to tighten their control over the southern city.

"This is the first boat carrying the UN flag to dock in Aden since the war began" in late March, provincial governor Nayef al-Bakri told reporters at the port.

The World Food Programme (WFP), which chartered the ship, had tried repeatedly to deliver aid to the port city but failed because of security concerns.

The governor said another ship, like the first carrying humanitarian aid from the United Arab Emirates, was expected to arrive later the same day.

Vessels sent by the UAE managed to reach Aden in May but not under the UN flag.

A humanitarian ceasefire declared by the United Nations earlier this month failed to take hold. The WFP had described the truce as the "final hope" to deliver desperately needed aid.

The WFP had delivered aid ahead of the truce to the rebel-controlled Hodeida port in western Yemen, but the insurgents did not allow an aid convoy to travel to Aden.

The United Nations had warned then that the impoverished country was just "one step away from famine."

More than 21.1 million people over 80% of Yemen's population need aid, with 13 million facing food shortages.

The United Nations says the conflict has killed more than 3,640 people, around half of them civilians, since late March.

Over the past week, forces loyal to Hadi have recaptured most of Aden from Huthi Shiite rebels and their allies.

Loyalists made their advances across the city backed by warplanes from a Saudi-led Arab coalition that mounted a bombardment campaign against the rebels late March.

Transport Minister Badr Basalmeh told journalists on Monday that a UAE technical team had arrived to repair the control tower and passenger terminal at Aden international airport, heavily damaged in clashes before rebel forces were driven out

Car bomb near Shiite mosque

On Tuesday, the UAE said an officer in its armed forces was killed in coalition operations, without giving details. He was the third Emirati killed in Yemen's conflict.

The coalition has never acknowledged putting boots on the ground in Yemen, but loyalists have been reinforced in Aden by forces freshly trained by the coalition.

Exiled Prime Minister Khaled Bahah declared the city to be "liberated" last Friday, although rebels pockets have fought on in some districts.

Rebel bombardment on Sunday killed 57 civilians in the Dar Saad neighbourhood on northern Aden, according to local health chief Al-Khader Laswar.

The rebels have overrun much of the Sunni-majority country, aided by their allies among forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In rebel-controlled Sanaa, a car bombing near a Shiite mosque on Monday claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group killed four people, the Shiite rebels said.

The Sunni extremists of IS have carried out a string of deadly attacks against Shiite targets in Yemen since March.

The Huthis, who overran Sanaa last September, also lost 11 fighters in other attacks in the capital on Monday night, medics and witnesses said.

Six were killed in a shooting at a checkpoint near the central bank. Five were killed in a car bombing against a police station.

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