Middle East

Yemen crisis: Fighting breaks new UN ceasefire

A nurse attends to a child in the intensive care unit of a government hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, June 24, 2015. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The UN says 80% of Yemen's 25m people need humanitarian aid

A new UN-brokered humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen has been broken shortly after coming into force.

Residents say the Saudi-led coalition carried out air strikes in the capital Sanaa. Clashes have also been reported in the south-western city of Taiz.

The UN had earlier urged all sides to observe the six-day truce which started at midnight on Friday (21:00 GMT).

More than 3,000 people have been killed since the coalition began air strikes in March to drive back Houthi rebels.

Aid agencies say a blockade on Yemen has worsened the humanitarian crisis after months of conflict. More than 80% of Yemen's 25 million people now need some form of aid.

Despite the ceasefire, fighting resumed early hours on Saturday. Witnesses reported air raids on Sanaa, which is controlled by the Shia Zaidi rebels - or Houthis.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The UN says little of the promised financial aid for Yemen has materialised

"We heard four to five loud explosions, which shook my house far away from the west of Sanaa," said Hussain al-Bokhaiti, a journalist based in Yemen.

One strike targeted a military camp used by the rebels, the Associated Press news agency reported.

There were also reports of air strikes in Taiz and Aden, both in the south.

The truce had called to allow vital supplies to reach Yemen's stricken people.

Displaced by conflict

In recent months Yemen has descended into conflicts between several different groups, although the main fight is between forces loyal to beleaguered President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Houthis, who forced Mr Hadi to flee Sanaa in February.

After rebel forces closed in on the president's southern stronghold of Aden in late March, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia responded to a request by Mr Hadi to intervene and launched air strikes on Houthi targets.

Gulf Arab states have accused Iran of backing the Houthis financially and militarily, although Iran has denied this.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The main fight is between forces (above) loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to Zaidi Shia rebels known as Houthis

About a million civilians have been displaced by the conflict.

Charities say a lack of fuel in Yemen is making it difficult to reach those in need and to provide adequate care in hospitals.

The coalition allowed a five-day humanitarian ceasefire in May, but much of the aid promised to those in need has failed to materialise.

Yemen is strategically important because it sits on the Bab al-Mandab strait, a narrow waterway linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden, through which much of the world's oil shipments pass.

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