Houthi forces surrounding Ta‘iz have been reportedly denying entry to aid vehicles and confiscating food and medical supplies from civilians. Human Rights Watch has documented a number of instances, some dating back to at least September, of the Houthis stopping Ta‘iz residents at checkpoints surrounding the city and confiscating fuel, food, medicine, and clothing. Medical aid trucks belonging to the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières have been turned away from Ta‘iz, preventing the delivery of essential medical supplies, such as oxygen tanks and vaccinations. These practices constitute a violation of international humanitarian law and have had grave consequences for the residents of Ta‘iz. One hospital reported that six premature infants have died in the last two months because the hospital lacks the oxygen tanks and generators necessary to run their incubators.
“The Houthis are denying necessities to residents of Ta‘iz because they happen to be living in areas that opposition forces control,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “Seizing property from civilians is already unlawful, but taking their food and medical supplies is simply cruel.”
Although Houthi forces surround Ta‘iz and maintain checkpoints outside of the city, opposition forces commanded by Shaykh Hamud al-Mikhlafi--including the Sunni Islah party and salafi groups--control the city center.
Ta‘iz has been subjected to indiscriminate shelling and some of the heaviest ground fighting in the conflict, forcing two-thirds of its population to flee while the remaining residents are in desperate need of food and medical aid.