Red Cross pulls 71 foreign staff out of Yemen due to insecurity

Red Cross pulls foreign staff out of Yemen

"During the long study and calculation, we found that as many as 250 000 people lost everything they had - even my life".

As many as 600,000 civilians now live in and around Hodeidah, which lies on Yemen's Red Sea coast, the United Nations said.

"Humanitarian agencies in Yemen are deeply anxious by the likely impact of a possible military assault on the port city of Hodeidah", Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, said in a statement on Friday.

The decision comes at a crucial time in the three-year-old war.

A Saudi-led coalition is said to be readying for an attack on the strategic Red Sea port in an effort to recapture it from Houthi forces.

Missile attacks on Saudi cities have been common in the last three years since the beginning of the Saudi-led war on the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

"Fierce fighting erupted Thursday after a group of rebels attempted to infiltrate army positions in southern Serwah", the statement quoted an unnamed military source as saying.

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Yemeni military artillery units hit Houthi targets in Sirvah, killing 20 Houthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Sunni Muslim allies entered the war in 2015 to try to drive back the Houthis, an Iran-allied Shi'ite movement that forced a Saudi-backed government into exile in 2014.

Since then, more than 10,000 people have been killed, majority civilians.

United Nations -backed peace talks between the Houthis and the Yemeni government were last held in Kuwait in August 2016.

Yemen's humanitarian crisis is considered the worst in the world.

Col Al Malki said the coalition was working with global NGO partners to create conditions for them to work safely and freely in Yemen and was fully prepared to assist the ICRC to ensure the continuation of its operations in the country.

Those withdrawn from Yemen represent more than half of the ICRC's worldwide staff in the country and one fifth of its total staff, spokeswoman Marie Claire Feghali told AFP.

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