The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has expressed concerns over the safety of members of its staff trapped in Yemen as conflict increases.
Fighting in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden has intensified since 7 August, particularly in the Crater region; leaving civilians trapped in their homes. Many residents have limited access to safe drinking water after a main water tank was damaged by shelling. Amgad, an NRC staff member currently trapped in Yemen, said: “There has been heavy, continuous shelling. We’re still hearing clashes in my neighbourhood. The water supply has stopped for days. People have small water tanks with enough water to last for one or two day’s maximum. There isn’t enough water and this is one of the main concerns. There is no way to get out of the city. Roads are closed and it is not safe. People are scared. We hope this will end soon.”
Separatist militia forces declared on Saturday, 10 August, that they had taken control of the city and seized the presidential palace: in a Tweet posted on Sunday, Yemeni interior minister Ahmed al-Mayssari congratulated the United Arab Emirates, which has supported the separatists, on its ‘victory’. While notionally a ceasefire is in place, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders described Aden as ‘a battlefield’ and said they had treated 119 patients in less than 24 hours.
Mohammed Abdi, the NRC’s Country Director in Yemen, said: “NRC currently has nine Yemeni staff members who are trapped by the fighting in the Crater area. We are extremely worried about their safety and wellbeing. Our staff are trapped in their homes. They are frightened as they can hear heavy fighting taking place close to their homes. They are worried about running out of food and water. They have no way of getting out and want the fighting to stop so they can get to safety. If the fighting continues the impact will be felt across the country. Aden Port remains one of the main gateways, second to Hodeidah port for supplying commercial and humanitarian goods to Yemen. Aden Airport is one of only two operational airports in the country. With Sana’a Airport closed to civilian flights, this means thousands will be stranded and unable to leave the country for urgent medical treatment, putting lives at risk.”