There are still Singaporeans in war-torn Yemen

There are still Singaporeans in war-torn Yemen
Yemeni fighters opposing the Huthi rebels shout slogans as they walk in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on April 8, 2015 as clashes continue to rage in the embattled city between Shiite Huthi rebels and forces loyal to fugitive Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

There are still Singaporeans in war-torn Yemen and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is urging them to return as evacuation becomes increasingly difficult.

The conditions there are dire, said Madam Sherin Fathimah, 37.

She and her four children returned to Singapore on Saturday after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) helped arrange their evacuation by a Chinese warship. They had been living in Aden, a city where the conditions were described as catastrophic by the Red Cross.

The Houthi rebels - who oppose the president - and their allies made a new push on a port in the city, but were forced back by militia loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, witnesses said.

AIR STRIKES

Naval forces of the Saudi-led coalition, which carried out nearly two weeks of air strikes in support of President Hadi, shelled rebel positions across the city, witnesses said.

International Committee of the Red Cross spokesman Marie Claire Feghali said the humanitarian situation across Yemen was "very difficult... (with) naval, air and ground routes cut off".

"The war in Aden is on every street, in every corner... many are unable to escape," she said.

Doctors Without Borders said the situation was "worsening by the day".

Medics in Aden had "not received large numbers of casualties over the past few days... due to the difficulties faced in trying to reach a hospital," the aid group's Marie-Elisabeth Ingres told AFP.

Doctors Without Borders has a team of 140 local staff and eight expatriates at a hospital in Aden.

Nationwide, more than 540 people have been killed and 1,700 wounded since March 19, the World Health Organisation said.

The UN said at least 74 children had been killed since the coalition strikes began on March 26, adding the real figure was thought to be much higher.

A Unicef spokesman said that about a million children have been unable to attend school.

"Children are paying an intolerable price for this conflict," Unicef Yemen representative Julien Harneis said in a statement.

"They are being killed, maimed and forced to flee their homes, their health threatened and their education interrupted. These children should be immediately afforded special respect and protection by all parties to the conflict..."

The fighting is also affecting health services, vaccinations and access to drinking water and more than 100,000 people have been displaced.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) is deeply concerned about the ongoing armed conflict in Yemen and the possible impact on the safety and welfare of Singaporean students.

In a statement released to the press yesterday, the council said that they, along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), have been in contact with the Singaporean students who are studying in Tarim, Hadramaut, Yemen.

The students have been urged to leave Yemen quickly and Muis and MFA are working closely to facilitate their return to Singapore.

Singaporeans in Yemen who have not contacted MFA or who require urgent assistance may contact the MFA Duty Officer (24 hours) at 6379-8800/8855 or mfa-duty-officer@mfa.gov.sg. They can eRegister with MFA at http://eregister.mfa.gov.sg/

Complex conflict in Yemen: So just who is fighting whom?

The answer is a complex one because there are several groups involved.

On the surface, the fight is between forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and rebels known as the Houthis.

Mr Hadi is supported in the predominantly Sunni south of the country by militia known as Popular Resistance Committees and local tribesmen, reported the BBC.

To complicate matters, both President Hadi and the Houthis are opposed by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula which is based in Yemen's south.

It gets even murkier thanks to the emergence late last year of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

And finally: At the request of Mr Hadi, Saudi Arabia and a coalition comprising the five Gulf Arab states and Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan entered the fray to keep the rebels at bay.

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