May 3-9: UN rushes to salvage grain stores in Hudaydah, government and southern forces clash in al-Dhali'

Friday, May 3

A roadside bomb believed to have been planted by al-Qaeda killed six civilians in al-Qatn village in Hadhramawt. This is the second attack in less than a week by al-Qaeda in the village. AQAP is active in several provinces in south and eastern Yemen.

Emirati officials say that the UAE is planning to diversify their distribution of aid in order to further their reach. The UAE will continue to use organisations outside of the UN-coordinated humanitarian response in providing aid. The UAE identifies food programmes and cholera prevention as top priorities. UN agencies and NGOs have criticized the UAE and Saudi Arabia throughout the conflict for refusing to pay into the UN’s pooled fund for Yemen, and for politicizing their humanitarian projects.

Saturday, May 4

Arab News reports that Saudi Arabia has launched new border security patrols in Saudi Arabia’s Najran Province, which borders Yemen’s al-Jawf and Sa’dah Governorates. US special forces soldiers are known to be assisting with border security; if US troops are involved in joint patrols, there will be an increase in the likelihood of direct US-Houthi clashes, which could escalate the conflict significantly.

Sunday, May 5

An article from southern news site al-Mahrah Post states that Yemeni official Mokhtar al-Rahbi criticized the alliance of Arab states involved in Yemen. Al-Rahbi recently tweeted that the UAE’s support for southern armed groups is unjustified and that the Saudi-led coalition has failed to allow the Yemeni government to return to the interim capital of Aden, leaving the city in the control of non-state militias and contributing to the political instability of the nation.

Aden al-Ghad, which tends to lean pro-Hadi, reports dozens of casualties on the Houthi side as clashes continue in al-Dhali’. This conflict map illustrates the current positions of Houthi and pro-Hadi troops in al-Dhali' province.

Residents of Radfan, located in southern Yemen, report electricity shortages and other difficulties in the city during Ramadan.

Pro-Hadi news site Yemen Now tweeted that Yemeni government forces have gained control of the Samar mountains in al-Hashwah District, Sa’dah Governorate.

With much of the international community’s focus on the truce in Hudaydah, fighting has escalated elsewhere and has displaced thousands and worsened the cholera epidemic and food crisis. Suze van Meegen of the Norwegian Refugee Council says, “the clashes taking place in al-Dhali’ are less visible than those in along Yemen’s west coast but threaten to have a similarly disastrous impact.” As a result of the fighting in al-Dhali’, aid, commercial traffic, and civilians are being diverted, which has reduced humanitarian access and has increased journey time and costs. Moreover, fighting has escalated in the regions of Hajjah, Abs, and Ta’iz. The UN Development Programme reported that if the conflict were to end this year it would have killed 233,000 people; 56 percent would be indirect deaths from lack of food, health services, and infrastructure.

The UN regained access to grain stored in the port city of Hudaydah, and began salvaging the food before it rots. The process will take several weeks before it can be milled into flour and distributed.

Following the kidnapping and killing of a patient one month ago, Doctors Without Borders began operations again in its hospital in Aden.

Monday, May 6

The UN has visited a Briton, who was arrested more than two years ago by the Houthis on alleged spy charges, for the first time since his arrest. The family and their MP are frustrated at the lack of action by the UK government to secure his release. Like most foreign states, the UK closed its missions to Yemen in 2015, making hostage negotiations very difficult.

Tuesday, May 7

Middle East Eye reports on two recent  defections of high-ranking pro-government officers to the Houthi rebels. The Houthi leadership announced a general amnesty for pro-government fighters in March. It is unclear exactly what motivated these officers to defect to San’a.

A feature by Al Jazeera reveals that Yemenis are illegally selling their organs in Egypt. Yemenis are recruited by brokers and are flown to Egypt for the operations. However, some of the patients are not given enough recovery time, increasing their health risks upon returning. Other Yemenis, unable to return home or to leave Egypt, have reportedly been forced to sell their organs to make ends meet.

Wednesday, May 8

UAE-backed Security Belt troops have arrived in Soqotra, allegedly to establish a base before more militias are sent. The move is facing scrutiny from the Yemeni government, as the fighters are separatists aligned with the Southern Transitional Council. The government has been at odds with the UAE over Soqotra since the first coalition forces arrived on the island earlier in the war.

Oman believes the war in Yemen “does not serve any party” and rejects the ongoing military operations. Oman’s ambassador to the United States commented on other developments in the Middle East, and reaffirmed Oman’s ability to be of diplomatic assistance.

A feature from Al Jazeera highlights the continuing economic struggle facing Yemenis, especially during the month of Ramadan. As a result of the conflict, inflation rates are high and government salaries have not been paid regularly, which contributes to Yemenis settling for low quality food or not being able to break their fast.

Al-Masdar Online reports that the pro-Hadi Presidential Protection Force has been removed from al-Dhali’ province where they were sent to combat Houthi forces. The group withdrew to Aden after clashes broke out between them and the ostensibly pro-Hadi 33rd Armored Brigade, headed by the governor of al-Dhali’ province.

Thursday, May 9

Migrants are still being held in temporary detention centers in Aden and Abyan governorates, but migrants detained in Lahj have recently been released.The International Organisation for Migration is concerned that the detained migrants are facing dangerous violations. Previous investigations have noted the involvement of government officials in human trafficking, as well as in the torture and abuse of detained migrants from Africa.

The Houthis are blocking access to an unmaintained oil tanker off of Yemen’s Red Sea coast. Almost a month ago the UN warned the ship was at risk of exploding, which officials are saying is an environmental catastrophe waiting to happen.

Aden al-Ghad reports fighting in the city of Qa’tbah in al-Dhali’ province between Houthi forces and the UAE-backed Security Belt militia.

The Mothers of Abductees Association tweeted their condemnation of abductions and torture in Hajjah province by the Houthis and called on the international community to act on the matter. The organization stated that they are currently monitoring 337 cases of abductions and disappearances in the area.