Two Red Cross workers shot dead in Yemen

Unidentified gunman opened fire on Red Cross vehicle killing two Yemeni aid workers travelling from Saada to capital Sanaa

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, tours a ruined site at the old quarter of Yemen's capital Sanaa August 9, 2015.

Two Yemeni Red Cross aid workers were attacked in their vehicle and shot dead in northern Yemen en route from Saada to the capital Sanaa, on Wednesday by an unidentified armed attacker, according to a spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Rima Kamal, currently based in Yemen.

"Sadly, two of our staff were brutally killed on their way back from Saada to Sanaa," Kamal said in a statement referring to the stronghold of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels located in the northern part of Yemen who have been constantly battling fighters supporting exiled Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Spokesman Adnan Hizam confirmed via telephone that the pair were of Yemeni nationals and were returning to the capital after finishing from work in the far northern province of Saada.

The two humanitarian aid workers were travelling with two other colleagues in two separate vehicles "clearly" marked with the Red Cross symbol when their path was obstructed by a gunman who opened live fire at the vehicles in Amran province, Kamal told AFP.

"One of our colleagues passed away on the spot while another sustained critical injuries and was transferred to an MSF (Doctors Without Borders) hospital, where he passed away shortly after," she reported.

The other two aid workers in the other vehicle were unharmed, she added.

"The ICRC condemns in the strongest possible terms what appears to have been the deliberate targeting of our staff," head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen, Antoine Grand, argued.

On August 25, the ICRC stated that it had postponed its humanitarian assistance in Yemen's second largest city, Aden, after gunmen robbed its main office while containing staff at gunpoint.

Yemen’s civil war crisis escalated in March when a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia joined forces in an attempt to carry out a military campaign against the Houthi militants.

With the collapse of a central government and health services throughout Yemen, humanitarian aid organisations have become the main source of food and medicine for the Yemeni people.

Since March, the ICRC has stepped up its aid activities in Yemen, and has been providing vital humanitarian support to around one million people in the city of Aden.

The UN has declared the situation in Yemen to be a level-three humanitarian emergency, the highest on its scale, after about 80 percent of the country’s population fell into dire need of humanitarian aid.

Twenty million people in the country are in need of aid, 13 million are facing food shortages and 9.4 million are having difficulties accessing drinking water.

TRTWorld and agencies