Refugee camp struck in Yemen as airstrikes continue

Refugee camp struck in Yemen as airstrikes continue
Coalition airstrike on Yemen refugee camp kills at least 45 people in northwest, as Houthis begin fresh offensive against the southern city of Aden, killing eight civilians.
3 min read
30 March, 2015
Yemen's General People's Committee tighten security measures in Aden [Anadolu/Getty]

Arab coalition warplanes carried out a fifth straight night of airstrikes against Houthi rebels near the Yemeni capital Sanaa, as the rebels began a fresh offensive against the southern city of Aden.

Fighter jets roared in the skies above Sanaa from 9pm (1800 GMT) until around 5:30am on Monday.

At least 45 people were killed when an air raid struck the Al-Mazrak camp for displaced people in Hajja province, northwest Yemen, the International Organisation for Migration said.

"IOM is reporting 45 dead among internally displaced persons, 65 injured (and counting)," spokesman Joel Millman told AFP by email, adding that "75 IOM staff are on hand assisting" the victims.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also said the camp had been hit.

The Al-Mazrak camp has been housing Yemenis displaced by the conflict between northern Houthi rebels and the central government since 2009.

The manager of the MSF programme in the Middle East, Pablo Marco, said 500 new families had arrived at the camp over the past two days.

"It was a night from hell," an unnamed Yemeni diplomat told Reuters news agency, referring to the night of airstrikes.  

Houthis on the other hand, shelled the city of Aden with artillery and battled with local militias, according to security officials.

Eight civilians, including two children, were killed plus dozens more injured after rebels shelled neighbourhoods in Daleh, a town north of the main southern city of Aden.

Read also: Raids cripple Sanaa airport, as UN evacuates Yemen staff

Positions held by the Houthi rebels and soldiers of the renegade Republican Guard overlooking the presidential palace were believed to have been targeted overnight.

A Republican Guard camp in south Sanaa was also hit, witnesses said.

In the area around Marib, 140 kilometres (90 miles) east of Sanaa, radar facilities and surface-to-air missile batteries were targeted, local officials said.

In western Yemen, anti-aircraft defences were targeted in the port city of Hodeida, as well as several military positions farther south along the coast, residents said.

Concern heightens over civilian casualties

Human rights organisations are calling for increased protection for civilians, especially since children have also been killed in the violence.

"Saudi Arabian and any other armed forces carrying out airstrikes in Yemen are required to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians," said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

However, the Saudi-led coalition has vowed to keep up the raids until the rebels "abandon their insurrection."

Yemen's President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi has urged his Arab allies to keep bombing until the Houthi rebels are defeated, branding them Iran's "puppet".

His Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin said there could be "no negotiations and dialogue" with the rebels "until the legitimate government has control over all Yemeni lands".

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said at a regional summit in Egypt the offensive would last until the rebels "surrender" their weapons and withdraw from areas they seized.