Bombings, war, disease as Yemen marks start of Ramazan

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The health situation is deteriorating with diseases such as malaria, typhoid and dengue fever spreading fast across Aden.

SANAA – War-torn Yemen began marking Ramazan on Thursday after a wave of bombings by ISIS along with Saudi bombardment, with little hope of a ceasefire and a worsening humanitarian situation.

The five simultaneous bombings targeting Shia mosques and offices in the capital late on Wednesday killed at least 31 people and wounded dozens, medics and witnesses said.

Apparently timed to coincide with sunset prayers when worshippers flocked to mosques to mark the eve of Ramazan, the bombings were claimed by ISIS or Daesh as “revenge” against Houthi fighters who have been battling West backed forces for months.

The conflict has cast a pall in Yemen over this year’s Ramazan, which is observed by more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide.

The Iftar will be a luxury this year in Yemen, where the UN says a “catastrophic” humanitarian crisis has left 80 per cent of the population — 20 million people — in need of aid.

The fighters mostly from Ansarullah group, opposed by Daesh, have overrun much of the country and, along with their allies among forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have been the target of Saudi-led air strikes since March.

UN-brokered talks between the warring parties are stalling in Geneva, after Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched negotiations on Monday with a plea for a Ramazan truce.

The humanitarian situation is particularly dire in the southern port city of Aden, battered by nearly three months of Saudi led air strikes and fighting.

Aden was struck by more air strikes at dawn while fighting raged between the rebels and forces loyal to fugitive President Abderabbo Mansour Hadi, witnesses said.

The city’s streets, usually busy for Ramazan with shoppers, were empty.

“It’s the first time we don’t feel happy that Ramazan has begun,” said Aden resident Abdulrahman Anis.

“We haven’t received salaries since the crisis began in March,” said the employee at a local newspaper.

“Food supplies are thin and triple the usual prices. Supermarket shelves are completely empty,” he said.

The health situation is also deteriorating, with diseases such as malaria, typhoid and dengue fever spreading fast across Aden, where dead bodies are left on the streets for days amid intense fighting.

“Every day we receive between 90 and 100 patients infected by dengue fever,” said Marwa Marwan, a doctor at the emergency department of Aden’s Al Breihi hospital.

She said 10-15 people die from dengue each day due to the lack of medicine to treat them.

The UN’s Ban pleaded with the warring sides this week to observe a “humanitarian pause for at least two weeks” to coincide with the start of Ramazan.

With an overall truce unlikely, a source close to the UN-sponsored talks in Geneva said warring parties would discuss the possibility of striking localised ceasefires.

Yemen’s war has killed more than 2,500 people since March, according to UN estimates.

ISIS claims suicide bombings 

SANAA — Two suicide bombers and another blast targeted the headquarters of Yemen’s Ansarullah fighters in the capital, Sanaa, on Wednesday, killing at least four people and wounding some 60 others, officials said. Earlier Saudi-led airstrikes hit a convoy of civilian vehicles and killed at least 31 people, authorities said.

Daesh posted an online statement claiming its militants detonated four car bombs targeting two mosques and two rebel offices in capital, Sanaa.

The claim, if true, would further complicate the ongoing war in Yemen that pits the Houthi fighters from Ansarullah against an array of forces, including ISIS, Al Qaeda and Saudi led coalition which has backing of the West and the United States.

Despite nearly three months of airstrikes, anti-Houthi forces have made little progress. The violence has killed at least 2000 civilians and wounded 3,423, according to the United Nations.

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