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Fighting leaves Yemen desperate

Yemen's Houthi rebels have been urged to stop their "war on the cities" by a potential new mediator, vice president Khaled Bahah. Military feuds and Saudi air strikes have claimed some 1,000 lives since late March.

Yemeni websites on Tuesday also quoted Bahah as urging Houthis to drop their objections and use the UN's recent resolution 2216 as a negotiations framework to end rivalries that escalated last year.

Bahah, who reportedly has broad support among Yemen's feuding parties, was appointed as vice president earlier this month by Yemen's Saudi-exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansur Hadi.

Saudi-led air strikes, which were halted last week,

resumed over the weekend.

On Monday, air raids killed at least 12 Houthi insurgents in the southern city of Ataq, according to local sources.

Fierce fighting was also reported in the southern city of Taez and in the oil-producing Marib region east of Sanaa.

The United Arab Emirates armed forces chief Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, while visiting UAE troops in Saudi Arabia, said a nine-nation coalition of Arab states had "no choice but to succeed in the test of Yemen."

Humanitarian situation 'catastrophic'

Aid officials, meanwhile, say Yemen's humanitarian situation has become catastrophic, with deliveries to the southern port of Aden being delayed on land by Houthis and because of a naval blockade by Saudi-led coalition navies.

International Red Cross spokeswoman Marie Claire Feghali said Yemen had been turned into a "humanitarian catastrophe." Last week, the World Health Organization said Yemeni

medical care was close to collapse.

Shortages of highly-priced fuel endanger power telecommunications and hospital services, said the UN's humanitarian agency OCHA added on Monday.

Several thousands of Yemenis also remain stuck in Egypt as their savings run out. Yemen's 25 million people rely on imports for more than 90 percent of their food.

Briefing the UN Security Council on Monday, the

outgoing UN envoy Jamal Benomar

warned that the resolution's inclusion of an arms embargo "could inadvertently restrict" the inflow of humanitarian assistance.

Benomar, a veteran Moroccan diplomat, said he regretted that the UN had not heeded his earlier warnings of "systematic acts of obstruction" to Yemen's battered peace process.

Rebels demand bombing halt

So far, the Houthis from Yemen's north have said UN calls for dialogue must be preceded by a

halt in the Saudi-led bombing campaign.

The rebels, together with supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, seized Yemen's capital Sanaa last September while demanding inclusion in a political restructuring.

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled from Aden to Saudi Arabia in March.

Gulf foreign ministers deliberate Thursday

On Saturday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon named Mauritarian diplomat, Ismail Quld Cheikh Ahmed, as the new UN envoy for Yemen.

Iran, which backs the Houthis Shiite rebels, has accused Saudi Arabia of meddling in Yemen amid a deterioration of relations between Tehran and Riyadh.

Yemen is expected to be the focused of a meeting of Gulf foreign ministers on Thusday.

ipj/bw (Reuters, AP;AFP, dpa)

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