Amnesty accuses Yemen rebels of ‘militarizing’ hospital

Yemeni pro-government forces advance toward the port area from the eastern outskirts of Hodeida, as they battle for the control of the city controlled by Houthi rebels, on Wednesday. — AFP

DUBAIAmnesty International accused Houthi militia on Thursday of “deliberate militarization of hospitals” in the battleground city of Hodeida and called on warring parties to protect civilians.

The human rights group said the Houthi militia recently stationed fighters on the roof of a hospital in the May 22 district of the Red Sea port city, calling the action a “stomach-churning development.”

It said the move risked “devastating consequences” for the hospital’s staff and patients.

“The presence of Houthi fighters on the hospital’s roof violates international humanitarian law.” Samah Hadid, Amnesty’s Middle East campaigns director Samah Hadid said.

A medical source said on Wednesday the militia had forced medical staff out of the May 22 Hospital — one of Hodeida’s main medical facilities — and posted snipers on the roof.

Pro-government forces pressed closer to the heart of Hodeida, whose port serves as the entry point for nearly 80 per cent of commercial imports and nearly all UN-supervised humanitarian aid.

Aid groups have appealed to both the rebels and the coalition to allow civilians to escape the city of some 600,000 people.

The rebels have controlled Hodeida since 2014 when they overran the capital Sanaa and then swept through much of the rest of the country triggering Arab coalition military intervention the following year and a devastating war of attrition.

Government forces backed by significant numbers of United Arab Emirates ground troops launched an offensive to retake the city in June. — AFP