Warring sides in Yemen have increasingly used global aid workers as a "pawn" in the country's three-year civil war, the worldwide Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday after removing 71 employees from the country amid security concerns.
"Humanitarian agencies in Yemen are deeply anxious by the likely impact of a possible military assault on the port city of Hodeidah", Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, said in a statement on Friday.
The war has claimed 10,000 lives and brought the country to the verge of starvation, causing a cholera outbreak amid a deteriorating economic situation.
"The Joint Forces Command of the Coalition reaffirms its commitment to facilitate the work of humanitarian aid employees of INGOs in the areas controlled by the legitimate government of Yemen, as well as the areas under control of the terrorist Iranian-Houthi militia", Spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said.
Twenty Houthi rebels were killed in clashes with Yemen's military in central Marib province, military officials said Thursday.
The military artillery had targeted Houthi sites and concentrations throughout southern Serwah, leading to heavy casualties and material losses among the ranks of the rebel group, it added.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Sunni Muslim allies entered the war in 2015 to try to drive back the Houthis, an Iran-allied Shi'ite movement that forced a Saudi-backed government into exile in 2014.
Since then, more than 10,000 people have been killed, a lot of them civilians.
The ongoing violence has also devastated Yemen's infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the United Nations to describe the situation as one of "the worst humanitarian disasters in modern times".
The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has pulled 71 staff members out of Yemen after a series of incidents and threats in the war-torn country.
The ICRC relocated the majority of its global staff from across Yemen to Djibouti, Marie Claire Feghali of the Red Cross told The Associated Press Friday.
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