Red Cross stops work in Yemen's Aden after gunmen raid office

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 25, 2015 9:00 AM

GENEVA/ADEN (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday it had temporarily suspended its activities in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden after its office was raided by unidentified gunmen a day earlier.

Aden is largely lawless since it became a frontline in Yemen's conflict between supporters of the exiled, Western-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the northern, Iran-allied Houthi movement.

Although forces loyal to Hadi's exiled government in Saudi Arabia retook Aden from the Houthis last month, al Qaeda militants deployed in a western district of Aden on Saturday.

The attackers held staff at gunpoint and stole cars, cash and equipment, ICRC spokeswoman Dibeh Fakhr said in an emailed comment. The aid agency had relocated 14 international staff, Fakhr told Reuters in Geneva.

A Saudi-led coalition has been trying to defeat the Houthis with a campaign of air strikes since March. At least 4,300 people have died so far and Yemen has been plunged into a humanitarian crisis as the state has collapsed.

One of the few aid agencies still operating in Aden and Yemen as a whole, the ICRC played a key role in providing medical supplies and treatment to stricken residents.

Adnan Hizam, the organization's spokesman in Yemen, said the move would "affect the Red Cross' activities in Aden and other southern provinces".

Residents say policemen and government army units have been largely absent from city streets.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Addition reporting by Mohammed Ghobari in Sanaa; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Raissa Kasolowsky)