Yemen's Taez facing acute medicine, food shortages: Red Cross

Fighters loyal to Yemen's President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi man a checkpoint in Taez, on October 21, 2015 (AFP Photo/Ahmad al-Basha)

Geneva (AFP) - Intensifying fighting in Taez has plunged the Yemeni city into a desperate situation, with closed hospitals and acute shortages of medicines, food, water and fuel, the Red Cross said Thursday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said the battles in Taez, which remains in the hands of forces allied with President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, was blocking the supply of essentials from the central city.

"The situation in Taez is particularly dire, even by the standards of the appalling conditions all over Yemen, with nearly half of the hospitals closed and streams of wounded people desperate for treatment," Antoine Grand, head of the ICRC's delegation in Yemen, said in a statement.

"We have been asking the parties concerned to authorise the delivery of urgent medicines to the Al-Thawra hospital for the last five weeks, to no avail so far," he said, stressing that "this shipment is critical to save lives".

His comments came after at least 22 civilians were killed and more than 140 wounded when suspected rebel rockets rained down on Taez on Wednesday.

Some 4,500 civilians have been killed since a Saudi-led coalition in March launched a bombing campaign against Iran-backed Huthi rebels, who had overrun Yemen's capital Sanaa and seized territory as far south as Aden with help from renegade troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The ICRC pointed out that more than six months of escalating ground fighting, air strikes and shelling had also left the people of Taez suffering from acute shortages of water, food, electricity, gas and fuel.

"We are deeply concerned not only by the restrictions imposed on movements of essential goods into Yemen, but also inside the country," Grand said.

"Today, we have been able to distribute food and basic aid to some displaced people on the outskirts of Taez, but it remains very difficult for essential goods to enter the city, leading to an extremely worrying humanitarian situation," he added.

The ICRC urged all parties to the conflict to take all the necessary precautions "to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to lift the restriction of movement of essential goods into and within Yemen."

The parties, the statement said, "must provide humanitarian assistance or allow and facilitate humanitarian organisations to deliver humanitarian aid impartially to the people most affected by conflict."