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Thousands Trapped in Yemen’s Marib as Fighting Escalates

A boy holds shrapnel from a missile at the site of Houthi missile attack, in Marib, Yemen, Oct. 3, 2021.

The United Nations is calling for a cease-fire in the key Yemeni city of Marib to allow civilians wounded in fighting to receive emergency medical care.

The battle for Marib reportedly is still raging between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Houthi rebels supported by Iran. The Houthis have made major gains in seizing control of Marib, the government’s last stronghold in northern Yemen.

U.N. officials say the intensity of the fighting is taking a severe toll on the civilian population. Spokesman for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Jens Laerke says about 35,000 people are essentially trapped in the battle zone. He says their movements in and out of the district are severely restricted.

“This inability to move in and out has limited the delivery of lifesaving aid and prevented the sick and wounded from receiving medical care. The provision of basic commodities has become exceedingly difficult and dangerous," Laerke said. "The United Nations and its partners remain committed to working with all relevant authorities to ensure that assistance continues to reach people in need despite the clashes.”

Laerke said the U.N. coordinator in Yemen is calling for a cease-fire in the Al Abdiyah District in Marib to allow safe passage of civilians and aid workers. He said it is critical that those wounded in the fighting be evacuated so they can receive medical care.

“So, this is a very specific request for a localized cease-fire in this district in Marib because the situation is extremely critical, and people’s lives are in immediate danger. Those who have been wounded in the fighting, which has been going on for quite some time, do not have access to the health care that they need. They cannot get out and the aid that we need to get in cannot get in,” Laerke said.

The OCHA says 235 civilians were killed or injured last month across Yemen, the second-highest monthly casualty figure in two years. Also last month, it says fighting near Marib displaced an estimated 10,000 people.

The United Nations calls Yemen, which is in its seventh year of war, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It says 80% of the population, 24 million people, depend on international aid for survival. It adds hunger is widespread, with nearly 5 million people on the verge of famine.