Roundup: Int'l call grows for de-escalation of Yemen's conflict to protect civilian safety

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ADEN, Yemen, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- International organizations have expressed their grave concern about the safety of civilians in Yemen, as the conflict continues to escalate in the war-ravaged country.

In Yemen's oil-rich province of Marib, intense battles are still raging between the government forces and the Houthi militia who are attempting to capture the central city of Marib that hosts nearly 2 million displaced people.

An official source told Xinhua that the government forces backed by Saudi Arabia had repelled major Houthi attacks against the Sirwah district during the past several hours.

On the other side, the Houthi group said that the Saudi-led coalition carried out several airstrikes on its positions in the Al-Jubah district.

Following the recent escalation of violence, several international organizations have voiced their deep concern about the safety of the civilians in Marib, who have been suffering from the fighting.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) declared that it is "sounding the alarm on the worsening humanitarian situation in Marib province where armed conflict is taking a heavy toll on displaced persons, migrants and the communities that host them."

The IOM urgently called on all parties concerned to end the ongoing hostilities, while appealing for urgent funds to support those affected.

Active frontlines have shifted in the past two months more than any time this year. The number of people forced to flee their homes in Marib - many for the fourth or fifth time - has jumped to more than 45,000 since September, according to the IOM's Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM).

The IOM said that "Marib's 137 displacement sites have seen a nearly ten-fold increase in new arrivals since September."

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also expressed worries about the safety and security of the civilians in Marib province, including more than 1 million people who are displaced.

It said that as "the frontlines shift closer to densely populated areas, their lives are in danger and access to humanitarian aid is becoming harder."

"Further escalation of the conflict will only increase the vulnerability of people in Marib - especially those displaced," the UN agency said, while calling for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen.

It said that "the new wave of displacement is exacerbating the existing humanitarian needs, drastically increasing the need for shelter, essential household items, water and sanitation, education, and protection services - particularly for children."

Moreover, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Yemen Hans Grundberg said that the sustained offensive on Marib has already resulted in "ripple effects" across Yemen, undermining the prospects of a negotiated settlement to the protracted conflict.

"There is no sustainable military solution to the conflict in Yemen. All warring parties need to de-escalate violence and prioritize the interests of civilians over scoring military wins," Grundberg noted.

The Iran-backed Houthi militia launched in February a major offensive on Marib in an attempt to seize control of the oil-rich province, the last northern stronghold of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government.

Yemen has been mired in civil war since September 2014 when the Houthi militia forced the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of the capital Sanaa. Enditem

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