AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthis are not serious about ending their almost eight-year siege of Yemen’s city of Taiz and the suffering of thousands of its residents, a government official told Arab News.
Maj. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Mahmoudi said that the terrorist militia group has not nominated their delegates in the joint committee that would open roads in Taiz and the other provinces.
Al-Mahmoudi, the deputy head of the Yemeni government delegation in the proposed meeting on Taiz, said on Sunday that the Houthis have neither sent the names of delegates to the office of the UN’s Yemen envoy nor stopped attacking the city with drones and shells.
“The Houthis did not adhere to their commitment to name their representatives in the committee. And they continue firing drones and gunning civilians,” he said.
A UN-brokered truce proposed over a month ago called for the cessation of hostilities on all fronts, opening roads in cities, including Taiz, reopening Sanaa airport for a limited number of flights and allowing fuel ships to enter Hodeidah seaport.
On April 4, the UN Yemen envoy asked the Yemeni government and the Houthis to name three people, including one military officer, to participate in the meeting that would discuss lifting the Houthi siege of Taiz and opening roads in the other provinces.
Al-Mahmoudi said that the meeting was supposed to take place in the Jordanian capital, Amman, but was canceled as the Houthis refused to name their representatives.
“We demand them to open the roads that choked the city and hand over maps that show places of landmines,” the Yemeni government official said. Based on the UN envoy’s timeline on the progress of the truce implementation, the envoy’s office held on April 24 a first meeting with the government’s officials in the committee on opening roads in Taiz and the other areas, with no mention of the Houthis.
The Houthis have laid a siege on Taiz, Yemen’s most populous city, since early 2015 after failing to advance into the city’s downtown after facing stiff resistance from army troops and allied resistance fighters.
The Houthis closed the city’s main entrances with sand dunes, planted landmines and deployed snipers in the surrounding areas. Residents were forced into using dangerous mountain roads when they wanted to leave or enter the city.
Thousands of civilians have been killed during the siege or through Houthi shelling and landmines. The Iran-backed terrorist group has not issued an explanation for its delay in naming delegates, but Al-Mahmoudi believes that the Houthis are using the siege as a bargaining chip in any talks with the government, which could be used to demand financial assistance.
The government’s Joint Forces, deployed along the country’s western coast, said on Saturday that the Houthis have not opened an important road that links parts of the Hodeidah province with Taiz, almost days after they unilaterally opened it under the truce.
Brig. Sadeq Daweed, a military commander at the Joint Forces, said that they repaired bridges and maintained Al-Jarahi-Hays road in Hodeidah and allowed people to use it for the first time, but the Houthis continued to block the road from their side.
Meanwhile, five children from one family drowned while swimming in a dam on Saturday in Yemen’s central province of Al-Bayda, a local official told Arab News. A picnic on Qaren Al-Asad dam in Al-Bayda’s Al-Aresh turned into a tragedy when the children drowned. The official said that four children died in the dam while the final victim died at a local hospital. Locals saved two more children. “This is a painful situation and an unprecedented tragedy,” the official, who preferred to be unknown, said, recounting the voices of horrified mothers trying desperately to rescue their children.