Author: Lizzie Dearden
A man walks past a house destroyed during battles between Houthi fighters and pro-government fighters in the southwestern city of Taiz, Yemen
The slaughter continues in Yemen following the government’s rejection of a US-brokered ceasefire, with a humanitarian worker among dozens killed in the past day.
At least 20 people were killed by shelling that hit a market in the rebel-controlled city of Taiz, where fighting has intensified between forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Houthi rebels in recent weeks.
Another 27 people died in fighting as the government continued an offensive to recapture the presidential residence and police headquarters.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said it received 21 bodies at its clinics in Taiz on Thursday, including one of their own staff members, as well as 76 patients wounded by both sides.
They had suffered burns, open wounds, lacerations and internal injuries in bombardment and fighting either side of the frontline.
Djoen Besselink, MSF’s head of mission in Yemen, said: “Sadly, one of our colleagues who works as watchman at the MSF trauma-centre in Taiz was killed whilst he was off duty when a blast hit a local market in the neighbourhood.
“Another heartbreaking example of a citizen affected by this ongoing conflict. We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and his friends.”
He called the situation in Yemen “unacceptable” as government forces, Houthis, rebel militas, al-Qaeda and Isis continue to fight over pockets of control.
Almost a quarter of MSF’s patients in Taiz were civilian women and children with violence-related injuries last month, with families saying they had been at home, markets or on their way to work in fields when they were hit by air strikes, shelling or gunfire.
An estimated 10,000 people have been killed since the start of the civil war in 2015, which has left millions more facing starvation and shortages of food, water and medicine.
John Kerry, the Secretary of State, announced a truce would come into effect on Thursday following an agreement by Houthi rebels and Saudi-led air coalition.
He met Houthi negotiators in Oman earlier this week, with the rebels and the party of their ally, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, publicly confirming their commitment.
But the Hadi government swiftly rejected the proposed agreement, causing the Saudis to announce they would continue strikes in support of their ally.
The spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition, Major General Ahmed Assiri, told AFP: “Until now there is no demand from the legitimate government (of Yemen) to observe a ceasefire.
“Consequently, the operations of the Yemeni army, supported by the coalition, will continue.”
Fighting has continued across the country since the ceasefire was supposed to come into force, with seven rebels and five soldiers killed in clashes in Shabwa province on Thursday, as both parties fought for control of the oil-rich Usaylan region.
Meanwhile, planes from the pro-government Saudi-led Arab coalition pounded rebel positions in Saada, the northern stronghold of the Houthis, as well as in Nahm and Sarwah, close to the rebel-held capital Sana’a. Six other rebels were killed in an ambush in the central province of Baida, officials said.
Six attempts to secure a ceasefire in Yemen have failed, including a three-day October truce that fell apart as soon as it went into force, intending to allow aid deliveries to millions of homeless and hungry Yemenis.
On Friday, the UN said it was working “very hard” with Saudi Arabia and other parties to bring Yemen’s government to peace talks.