“I ... sent a message asking for a truce, a peace pause, a humanitarian pause, for the parties to stop shooting, stop fighting, stop airstrikes, so the people can go to hospitals, can go to seek safety ... and go to also find a place for water and food,” UN humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick told reporters in Geneva by phone from Sanaa.
“Our ability to get to people over the last five days has been impeded because of the airstrikes, because of the fighting, and our life-saving support activities were blocked,” he said.
After the assassination, Saudi-led warplanes pounded the capital before dawn Tuesday as the rebels moved to consolidate their control over the city.
“What happened... because of our inability to move in the city during the five days — the UN agencies, Red Cross and NGOs — we were unable to do our life-saving treatments,” McGoldrick said.
“Now the uncertainty continues and despite what happened yesterday, we don’t know if we can start doing our operations or whether we have to wait for some time,” he added.
McGoldrick said a UN team would travel to Riyadh “quite soon.”
The body of ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh, which had appeared in a video by the militias with a gaping head wound, was taken to the city’s Houthi-controlled military hospital, but it was not immediately clear if the rebels would allow Saleh’s family to hold a funeral.
The gruesome images from the previous day sent shockwaves among Saleh’s followers — a grisly end recalling that of his contemporary, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, in 2011.
Saleh’s son Salah said on Facebook on Tuesday that he won’t receive condolences for his father’s death until “after avenging the blood” of the longtime strongman. Salah also urged his father’s followers to fight their former allies, the Houthis.
The fighting has brought new suffering to Sanaa’s residents; many said the night was shattered by the sounds of gunfire and children screaming.
Witnesses said the bodies of slain civilians and fighters littered the streets as no ambulances were able to reach the area.