Fiercest clashes yet in Sanaa, Yemen casualties growing: ICRC

GENEVA (Reuters) - Fighting in Yemen’s capital has intensified, with the known toll from three hospitals reaching at least 125 killed and 238 wounded in the past six days, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Monday.

Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck at Houthi militia positions in Yemen’s capital Sanaa for a second day on Monday in support of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a former Houthi ally who has now renounced his alliance with the Iranian-backed group.

Residents are trapped in their homes, many lacking provisions, with the sick, wounded and pregnant women often unable to reach hospitals, ICRC spokeswoman Iolanda Jaquemet said.

The ICRC supplies three large hospitals in the Yemeni capital - Al Thawra, Al Jumhouri and Al Kuwait - which urgently need kits for treating war-wounded, she said.

“According to the hospitals we are in touch with, the clashes have claimed the lives of 125 people and wounded 238,” she said.

But due to the fighting, the agency cannot reach its medical warehouse in Sanaa which was hit overnight, but as far as it knows the kits and other goods have not been damaged, she added, declining to give more details about whether it was struck in an air strike or by another type of attack.

She said they were looking at donating body bags to the hospitals, plus other supplies.

“We hope to donate fuel to the main hospitals because they depend on generators and they are in urgent need of fuel because their stocks are being depleted at a time of the recent increase in the number of casualties,” Jaquemet said.

Hospitals need electricity to perform surgeries and maintain the cold chain for drugs and vaccines, she said.

The ICRC “relocated” 13 international staff to Djibouti from Sanaa on Monday, leaving about 199 staff in the city, including 21 expatriates, she said.

The agency deploys about 425 staff in Yemen, including in Hodeida, Saada, Taiz and Aden, she said.

U.N. and other aid officials said on Sunday that the United Nations was trying to evacuate at least 140 aid workers from the Yemeni capital amid fighting that had cut off the airport road, but awaited approval from the Saudi-led coalition.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Alison Williams