April 26-May 2: Southern Authorities round up African migrants, fighting escalates in al-Dhali' and al-Hudaydah

Friday, April 26

After several days of conflict with local security forces, the Abu al-Abbas Brigades have agreed to leave the old city of Ta’iz based on an agreement with the city’s “truce committee,” reports al-Masdar Online.

Beginning in Aden and Lahj governorates last Sunday, Yemeni authorities are rounding up irregular migrants in Southern Yemen. The UN migration agency is saying these actions are, “creating an acute humanitarian situation.” The International Organization for Migration is concerned about the conditions in which the migrants, who are predominantly Ethiopian, are being held.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt hosted the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, in London, where the two discussed their bilateral partnership. UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths also met with Hunt, Sheikh Abdullah, and figures from Saudi Arabia and the US to discuss the next steps in the UN-brokered peace plan.

Saturday, April 27

Mareb Press reports heavy exchanges of artillery fire between the Hadi government and Houthi militias in Hudaydah.

Al-Masdar Online reports that a new pro-Hadi assembly, the Southern National Coalition, has been established in Aden. As scholar Sam Ramani points out, the body is intended to rival the Southern Transitional Council, but will likely struggle to gain significant support due to Hadi’s unpopularity in the area.

Arab News reports that clashes in al-Dhali’ province allegedly resulted in 70 Houthi casualties. Coalition casualties were not reported.

Six Yemeni demining experts died in Ta’iz following an explosion at a warehouse that contained unexploded landmines.

Monday, April 29

Al-Naser Hospital, which is the only public medical center in the embattled al-Dhali’ governorate, is at risk of closure because of a shortage of medical equipment and damage to infrastructure. The hospital receives 200 new patients from battle zones each day, and also treats people infected with cholera. A doctor at the hospital said “we are suffering a lot and the patients suffer much more.”

Yemen’s Defense Ministry claimed that the Yemeni army made advancements in al-Dhali’ and Ta’iz.

The Saudi-funded KSRelief mine removal project (MASAM) has removed 63,719 mines and spare munitions since it was launched in June of 2018. Operating only in coalition-controlled areas, the organization does not fund removal efforts from unexploded ordnance resulting from coalition airstrikes or other activities.

Tuesday, April 30

Retirement pensions should be payed to some Yemeni citizens next week, according to Aden al-Ghad. Pensioners and active civil servants have gone without regular pay for much of the conflict.

The Houthis are asking the United Nations to arrange the sale of Yemeni crude oil in order to use the revenues to finance fuel imports and pay public sector salaries through the central bank. Since the beginning of the conflict, the production and exports of oil have been significantly reduced. Both the Houthi leadership and pro-coalition figures are known to trade in black-market oil and fuel.

Yemen’s Aden Refinery Company announced a tender for the purchase of 40,000 tons of diesel, which will be used to supply power plants. The tender states that the diesel must be delivered to Aden’s refineries on May 8th.

The situation in Yemen is worsening and funds are needed urgently. So far only a portion of the 4 billion dollars pledged for the current year’s UN humanitarian appeal have been received. Moreover, two of the biggest donors, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are now delivering their pledged money in small increments, which is not an efficient way to fund such a massive relief effort.

Wednesday, May 1

The coalition conducted air raids on al-Daylami Air Base, adjoining San’a’s commercial airport, and targeted alleged drone maintenance sites, a communications system, and locations of drone experts and operators. A spokesperson for the coalition stated that Houthis have transformed the San’a airport into a military barracks.

Amnesty International is calling on the Houthis to free 10 journalists that have been held for four years on “trumped-up spying charges.” The men were formally charged in 2018, and it is not clear when their trials will take place, but it is possible they could be sentenced to death. Arbitrary detentions have been carried out by all parties involved in the conflict.

KSRelief claims to be increasing medical assistance in Yemen. New agreements have been signed that will help fund treatment at a hospital in Ta’iz and a health clinic in Hajjah. Saudi Arabia’s focus on funding unilateral humanitarian projects, rather than UN-led efforts, has been criticized by humanitarian agencies throughout the conflict.

Thursday, May 2

The Senate failed to override President Trump’s veto of S.J.Res.7 to end US support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.

At two hospitals run by Medecins Sans Frontieres, in Ta’iz and Abs, 1,000 newborn children have died in the past two years despite their mothers reaching the hospitals. Many more die because they are unable to reach hospitals as a result of the conflict.

Aden al-Ghad reports that a Southern Transitional Council leader has expressed the group’s determination to establish an independent Southern state.

This article from Aden al-Ghad references the concerning comments of an official in Shabwah province as he expresses his “deep resentment” of irregular migrants from Africa settling in the governorate and calls on government actors to “protect society” from the influx of undocumented migrants seeking refuge in Yemen. Yemen received more than 150,000 irregular migrants in 2018, more than the entire European Union. Migration to Yemen en route to the Gulf states has increased in recent years, in part because of more aggressive policing of borders and sea routes by European states.

Al-Masdar Online reports that 60% of Yemen’s private sector workforce will be unemployed during Eid this year.

According to al-Masdar Online, Saudi officials refused to allow several Yemeni citizens through a border crossing between Yemen and Saudi Arabia this morning. The reason cited, according to the article, was a missing element on the individuals’ passports, although some had crossed into Saudi Arabia previously without issue using the same documents.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the Houthis’ use of armed drones, which are likely to be a significant element in asymmetric conflicts in the future, now that drone technology is ubiquitous. The Houthi drone program is assumed to be led by Iranian experts (paywall).