Hundreds of families have been displaced in Yemen’s besieged city of Taiz in the past two days after the Houthi rebels forced civilians out of their homes in the Belad Alwafi area. The exact number of people who have been displaced is unknown, but local estimates range from 200 to 700 civilians.
Using speakerphones, Houthi militia forces called for families to leave their homes as the siege intensifies within the villages of the area. A commander of the Taiz resistance movement told local media outlets days ago that the Belad Alwafi are has in fact been besieged for two months.
Mohammed Saad said that the humanitarian situation has worsened significantly as the Houthi rebels and allied militia forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh have been trying to capture the are and the wider Jabal Habashy district, which is where Belad Alwafi is situated. They have been using hit and run attacks to scare civilians out and to induce instability to fully capture the area.
Those who refuse to leave their homes are being attacked, mainly by being shot at and the houses of civilians are being looted. Saad added that seven houses have been burnt down so far.
The Jabal Habashy district is in the middle of the Taiz province, south from Taiz city. The Houthis chokehold on the district came as local resistance forces, backed by southern sectionalist fighters began to make pockets of gains in the coastline, which was considered a priority in order to securitize the Red Sea.
There was also the intention of weakening the Houthis’ weapons supplies by deterring their ability to illegally acquire weapons through shipments via the Red Sea. On 22 March 2015, the Houthis entered Taiz city and captured the military airport and other parts of the city.
Civilians were quick to take to the streets and protest against the presence of the Houthis, which they reacted by killing and injuring the protestors. This has resulted in the besiegement of around half a million civilians.