ABOARD GEO BARENTS (AP) — Fighting over the key Yemeni city of Marib has displaced around 10,000 people in the past month, the U.N. migration agency said Thursday. The clashes escalated as Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels intensified their push to take the provincial capital from government forces.
Yemen has been convulsed by civil war since 2014, when the Houthis captured the capital, Sanaa, and forced the country’s president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and the internationally recognized government to flee to the south, and then later to Saudi Arabia.
The International Organization for Migration said the newly displaced — the highest monthly tally recorded so far this year — bring to around 170,000 the number of people who have fled fighting in and around the city of Marib and the surrounding province, also called Marib, as well as two nearby provinces, since the beginning of 2020. The tally was recoded in six of Marib province’s 14 districts, the IOM said.
After seizing control of several districts and cities in nearby provinces in 2020, the Houthis began their march on Marib in February, with the aim of capturing the city to complete their control over northern Yemen.
However, the rebels suffered heavy losses amid stiff resistance from Hadi’s forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition that entered the war in 2015 on the government’s behalf. Despite a relentless air campaign and ground fighting, the war has deteriorated largely into a stalemate and spawned a massive humanitarian crisis.
In the Marib push, the rebels have failed to make substantial progress amid international pressure and demands to halt the offensive. The latest fighting has cut off the southern district of Abdiya, and clashes were also reported in the district of Rahaba, the IOM said.
“This renewed violence in Marib is destabilizing the lives of thousands of people and leading to tragic death and injuries of civilians, including children,” said Christa Rottensteiner, head of IOM’s mission in Yemen.
The Houthis have also fired scores of ballistic missiles and explosive-laden drones on the city, killing and wounding civilians, including women and children. They have also attacked Saudi Arabia with missiles and drones.
On Sunday, three ballistic missiles landed in Marib’s residential Rawdha neighborhood, killing two children and wounding 32 people, according to Ali al-Ghulisi, the provincial governor’s press secretary.
The IOM said many of the newly displaced live in displacement camps in Marib, exacerbating the already overcrowded conditions. Others have sought refuge in abandoned public buildings, their relatives’ homes or have run through their savings renting accommodation, it said.