Shelling from Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces hit an international humanitarian aid office in Yemen on Thursday, killing five Ethiopian refugees and wounding 10, a local official said. The news comes amid growing concern about the Saudi-led military offensive's impact on Yemen’s civilians and infrastructure.
Artillery fire and aerial bombing on Thursday struck the town of Maydee along Yemen’s border with Saudi Arabia in Hajja province, Reuters reported. The area is a stronghold of Shiite Houthi militias that Riyadh and its regional allies have been targeting for several months. The latest deaths come four days after the conclusion of a five-day humanitarian ceasefire, which was declared to allow international groups to bring aid to Yemen.
Earlier this week, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the chaos in Yemen could prove to be fertile ground for extremist and jihadist movements, and facilitate their entry into the country through Somalia.
“The crisis in Yemen has the potential to further destabilize the region and open a corridor for jihadist movements through Somalia,” Ban said, adding that he is “greatly concerned” about the threat of Islamist militant group al-Shabab in Somalia, “and the security implications of developments in Yemen.”
On Wednesday, Yemen's warring factions agreed to meet for peace talks next week, where representatives from the Houthis and the exiled government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi will discuss a path to ending the conflict.
Yemen’s current turmoil began when the Houthis took control of the capital city of Sanaa in February, ousting Hadi and forcing him to flee. The U.N. and the international community have denounced the coup, calling for Hadi’s internationally recognized administration to be reinstated.
A three-day conference on Yemen’s political future, which ended Tuesday, called for a major decentralization of power in Yemen, and a power-sharing agreement between the central government and an undecided number of regions in the country. The meeting, which was attended by several regional powers, but not the Houthis, had called for the rebel group to withdraw from occupied territories and give up their weapons.