By Tim Nanns
Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Saudi-led coalition of violating the laws of war by keeping up a blockade, according to a statement released by the organisation on Monday.
The organisation says the blockade is continuing, despite the lack of fuel that is threatening hospitals and basic food supplies to the country.
HRW is urging the coalition to let fuel tankers pass the blockade in order to keep hospitals working and food supplies running, describing the humanitarian situation as “dire”. While ships carrying food supplies were allowed to unload their cargo, fuel tankers have not yet docked at Yemeni ports since 28 March, according to HRW.
The coalition was already accused by a high ranking UN official of “breaking humanitarian laws” by declaring the whole Sa’ada governorate a military target.
The only entities so far able to get fuel supplies into Yemen were the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), claiming on Sunday a chartered ship, carrying fuel, had berthed at Hudaydah port. A further shipment arrived later on Sunday. Both shipments, however, carried relatively low supplies compared to the huge tankers that have so far been denied docking.
Yemen relies heavily on food and fuel imports with the fuel, among other, also military, uses, used to distribute food throughout the country and to keep the electricity running. Also the water supply is affected since the necessary installations to pump up water and treat it adequately are out of order due to the fuel shortage, thus making water-borne diseases a major concern.
According to official Moroccan news agency MAP, a Moroccan F-16 fighter “has been missing since Sunday 18:00 local time”. So far, there has been no official information on whether the jet was downed by enemy fire or other issues like technical problems.
A Houthi official claimed “anti-aircraft guns shot it [the plane] down”, but that they did not know what happened to the pilot, according to a statement issued to Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu.
Pictures show Yemenis in front of the debris of the downed jet, clearly showing Moroccan emblems but also scattered body parts, suggesting the pilot was killed during the crash.
Meanwhile, coalition airplanes continued their strikes, seemingly focused on Sa’ada governorate and the Yemeni capital, Sana’a. Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s residence has reportedly been hit during the third consecutive day of strikes on Monday.
Saleh gave a speech to TV station Yemen Today on Sunday in front of the ruins of his house, claiming to not have cooperated previously with the Houthis. He stated, however, that “the Yemeni people will work with whoever will protect their interests”.