Red Cross evacuates 44 wounded from Yemen's Dammaj

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 08, 2013 3:54 PM

DOHA (Reuters) - The Red Cross evacuated 44 people wounded in clashes between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslim fighters in the Yemeni town of Dammaj on Friday, the second such operation in under a week, the humanitarian agency said.

It also rescued a woman who was eight months pregnant, her two children and two other children accompanying an injured parent, said Cedric Schweizer, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

Sectarian rivalry between Sunni Salafists and Shi'ite Houthis in Dammaj has cast a shadow over reconciliation efforts in Yemen, a neighbor of oil exporter Saudi Arabia and home to one of al Qaeda's most active wings.

A ceasefire this week to end days of clashes that killed at least 100 combatants and civilians appeared to be crumbling after Sunnis reported a resumption of fighting.

The ICRC said it stood ready to help people in Dammaj and the wider governorate of Saada who were suffering from the violence.

"However, it can only do so if the warring factions provide the necessary guarantees concerning the safety of both its teams and the evacuees," it said in a statement.

The continued turmoil on several fronts in the country has alarmed Washington, which has stepped up aid and military support for the government as part of its global fight against Islamist militants.

(Reporting by Amena Bakr; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)