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Red Cross's plan to fly medical aid to Yemen delayed by 'logistical problems'

The International Committee of the Red Cross has been forced to delay sending medical supplies to Sanaa due to problems with chartering a plane. 'There are less and less planes landing in Yemen,' a spokesperson said.

With more than 500 people killed and nearly 1,700 wounded in the fighting in Yemen over the past two weeks, according to the United Nations, the Red Cross was finally getting a chance to bring in medical aid to the capital Sanaa, which has been in the hands of Houthi rebels since September.

The aid agency issued an urgent appeal on Saturday for an immediate truce so that medical assistance could be provided to the people caught up in the fighting, especially in the capital Sanaa and increasingly in Aden and other cities.

The plan was to send a cargo plane with 48 tons of medical supplies, as well as surgical kits to treat the 2,000 to 3,000 people hurt in the fighting.

But now the hope was to deliver the supplies by Tuesday or Wednesday, ICRC spokesperson Marie Claire Feghali told Reuters news agency.

The vote on a

proposal for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire submitted by Russia to the UN Security Council

was postponed on Saturday.

Evacuations and alliances

Evacuations of foreign nationals from Yemen continued on Sunday, with India transporting nearly 700 of its nationals out of Yemen by sea and by plane. Pakistani and Turkish planes evacuated a number of foreign nationals as well.

On Monday, Pakistan's parliament began debating the thorny issue of whether or not to join the Saudi-led military coalition. Not only is Pakistan a Sunni-majority country, it is a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia, which is the major Sunni power in the Gulf region. Saudi Arabia is also a major provider of aid to Pakistan, having given $1.5 billion (1.36 billion euros) in aid in 2014 alone.

On the other hand, Shiites constitute around 20 percent of Pakistan's population, a sizeable minority already under attack from Sunni militants. Joining the Sunni coalition in Yemen could add to the conflict. Further, Pakistan's military is partially tied down by insurgents within its own borders and public opinion in the country is decidedly against another "foreign" military involvement.

The battle on the ground

The results produced by the Saudi-led coalition's bombing campaign have been less than satisfactory, with

fierce fighting still continuing in Aden

. The rebels are reportedly making a push towards the presidential palace and the local television station. An arms drop begun on Friday by the coalition's planes was reportedly unsuccessful, with reports of boxes of weapons landing in areas controlled by Houthi fighters and supporters of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

To underscore their aggressive bid for power in the impoverished country, the Yemeni Shiite rebels have arrested more than 120 members - including two senior leaders - of the rival Sunni Islah party in an overnight campaign on Saturday, as Islah has revealed in a statement on its website.

In a positive sign, Houthi politburo member Mohammed al-Bukhaiti told DPA on Sunday that the group was ready to resume talks if the UN-brokered meeting were held in Sanaa and not in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, as suggested by embattled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who has fled to Saudi Arabia.

ac/kms (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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