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Yemen: Government and Saudi-backed forces begin takeover of Socotra

A general view of the sand dunes and the beach in front of them in the area of Hoq is seen on March 12, 2011 in Socotra Island, Yemen [Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images]
A general view of the sand dunes and the beach in front of them in the area of Hoq is seen on March 12, 2011 in Socotra Island, Yemen [Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images]

A joint force of the Yemeni government and Saudi Arabian-led Arab coalition began Saturday to take control of Socotra Island’s provincial center of Hadibu.

Socotra governor’s Information Secretary Muhammad Abdullah al-Socotri told Anadolu Agency that in line with an agreement to end military tension in Socotra reached Friday, the force has started its duty for the city’s security.

The takeover process began simultaneously with the withdrawal of armed militia of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed Southern Transition Council (STC) and the Yemeni government’s military forces from positions after clashes.

Last week, the STC declared self-governance and a state of emergency in temporary capital of Aden and southern provinces, which caused tension on Socotra as well as the other provinces in the south.

The Yemeni government and the provinces of Hadhramaut, Shabwa, al-Mahra, Abyan, and the administration of Socotra have rejected the STC’s move, which has also drawn widespread international criticism.

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Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in March 2015 after Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized the capital of Sanaa, and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee the country.

Five years of conflict have has left thousands of civilians dead and nearly 3.7 million internally displaced, according to the UN.

The impact on the country’s infrastructure has been devastating, with major overland routes and airports severely damaged.

Nearly half of Yemen’s population of more than 30 million are in need of immediate assistance to sustain or save their lives.

The World Food Programme says that despite ongoing humanitarian assistance, at least 15.9 million people wake up hungry every day.

It is estimated that, in the absence of food assistance, this number would go up to 20 million.

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