Yemen’s U.N. letter calls for ground intervention

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As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought to secure a pause in Yemen’s war, Yemen sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, urging the international community “to quickly intervene by land forces to save” the country, specifically in the cities of Aden and Taiz.

The letter, sent to the president of the U.N. Security Council and obtained by The Associated Press and Reuters, calls on human rights organizations to document what Ambassador Khaled Alyemany calls the Houthis’ “barbaric violations against a defenseless population.”

The Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin on Wednesday also read out the letter to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz during a press conference aired on Al Arabiya News Channel.

The letter said Yemenis were calling for a swift ground intervention to save Aden from falling to Houhti militias and added that the international community must protect civilians.

Yassin also presented pictures which he said were evidence of Houthi crimes against Yemeni refugee families.

The letter says more than 50 civilians, including women and children, were killed by Houthi strikes on their boats as they tried to flee Tawahi district.

The letter claims that the Houthis are “targeting anything that moves” in Aden, killing humanitarian workers, using tanks and heavy artillery on families and preventing medical teams from reaching injured people.

The spokeswoman for the current council president, Lithuanian Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite, confirmed that the ambassador had received the new letter but said the council so far was not scheduled to discuss it on Thursday.

The call for the use of ground forces comes as the international community instead calls for an immediate ceasefire, or at least humanitarian pauses, to deliver aid to civilians trapped in the fighting.

Kerry calls for pause

Kerry sought to secure a pause in Yemen’s war as he arrived in Saudi Arabia Wednesday to meet with the king and other top officials, citing increased shortages of food, fuel and medicine that are adding to a crisis that already has neighboring countries bracing for a mass exodus of refugees. He was to hold further talks Thursday.

At a news conference in Djibouti, an African nation that he visited on his way to the kingdom, Kerry said the United States was deeply concerned by the worsening humanitarian conditions in Yemen.

He spoke just a boat trip away from the scene of the fighting, where Iran-backed Houthi militias were pressing on with ground offensives and Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries were continuing their month-and-a-half-long bombing campaign.

The letter comes as the Houthi militias and their allies on Wednesday consolidated their hold in another part of the southern port city of Aden, where the U.N. said violence was becoming increasingly intense. Several districts in Aden governorate were completely cut off, the deputy spokesman for the secretary-general, Farhan Haq, told reporters earlier Wednesday.

The U.N.’s humanitarian office cited reports of heavy shelling in seven districts of Aden, Haq said. In Tawahi district, which the Houthis took Wednesday, parties to the conflict were “reportedly shooting at residents attempting to leave and shelling the boat in which they trying to escape,” Haq said. “Several hundred families managed to flee to other parts of Aden governorate by boat.”

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