AL-MUKAALLA, YemenAn international rights group has said that 15 Yemeni civilians have been killed and 69 others wounded by Houthi fire and landmines in the city of Taiz since the UN-brokered truce began on April 2.
In a 30-page report titled “The Fragile Truce,” the Geneva-based SAM organization stated that Houthi snipers, as well as thousands of landmines and explosives-rigged drones fired by the Houthis at densely populated areas in Taiz, have killed 15 civilians, including seven children and eight women, and injured 69, including 28 children and eight women.
There have been 90 violations of the truce by the Houthis in the last six months.
They have targeted residential areas with heavy weapons, maintained a blockade of the city, and mobilized troops along the city’s outskirts, the organization said.
The UN-brokered truce, which is set to expire next week, has resulted in a significant reduction in fighting across the country, the resumption of commercial flights from Sanaa airport, and the entry of dozens of fuel ships into Hodeidah port.
Residents in Yemen’s third largest city, Taiz, which has been under Houthi siege since early 2015, complained that the truce had made no difference to their lives because the Houthis had not lifted the siege or stopped their attacks.
The Houthis have also refused several proposals and failed to attend a meeting with the Yemeni government to discuss road opening arrangements.
The militia has insisted on opening a small, unpaved road instead of the Yemeni government’s preferred main route leading into and out of the city.
Residents told SAM that Houthi snipers, landmines, and the siege have exacerbated the city’s humanitarian crisis and prevented them from reaching relatives, schools, or farms, accusing the Houthis of deliberately gunning down unarmed civilians.
Fatima Ibrahim said that her son, a shepherd, was shot by a Houthi sniper while grazing sheep in the open in Taiz.
When the mother and other residents rushed to save him, Houthi snipers pointed guns at them, forcing them to carry him to a nearby hospital on a motorbike.
“Houthi snipers do not differentiate between people. They regularly prey on women, children, the elderly, and even animals. Where is the cease-fire? We only see killing,” the mother said.
SAM demanded that more pressure be put on the Houthis to stop attacking residents in Taiz and called for the deployment of foreign peacekeepers to save civilians from Houthi attacks.
“The international community should take the truce in Yemen seriously by forming a monitoring committee overseen by neutral countries.
“The siege of Taiz must be lifted immediately, and the Houthi group must stop all attacks on civilians,” the organization said.
In a blow to peace efforts, the militia’s leaders reaffirmed their opposition to extending the ceasefire or the most recent version of the UN envoy’s proposal on Taiz and salary payment.
The militia’s Supreme Political Council president, Mahdi Al-Mushat, told UN Yemen Envoy Hans Grundberg, who is visiting Sanaa, that the movement would not extend the truce until the Yemeni government paid public servants in areas under their control.
The Yemeni government refuses to pay salaries and has demanded that the Houthis pay public servants from the sales of fuel ships passing through Hodeidah port.
In an attempt to break the impasse, the UN envoy proposed that the Houthis pay salaries from fuel sales based on 2014 payroll, with any shortfall covered by the Yemeni government.