Tags: Emerging Threats | Americans | Yemen | Africa | Houthis | Saudi Arabia

Group of 140 Americans Flees Yemen for the Horn of Africa

By    |   Monday, 13 April 2015 11:36 AM

About 140 Americans formerly living in Yemen have arrived to safety in Djibouti, a country on the Horn of Africa, ABC News reported.

The group is receiving full consular services there, ABC News said, and unrest from the fighting inside Yemen against Houthi rebels forced the Americans to leave. Hundreds more are thought to still be inside the country — described as the Arab world's poorest — where conditions have deteriorated to a full-blown humanitarian crisis as water, food and healthcare remain scarce.

"The current conflict in Yemen takes place against the backdrop of a humanitarian crisis of a protracted nature and of a size and a complexity, which is amongst the largest in the world," said Johannes van der Klaauw, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, who briefed reporters on Friday in Geneva, ABC News said.

The evacuations come as more than 50 Yemeni-American citizens sued the U.S. State Department and Defense Department over failure to evacuate them, the Seattle Times reported.

They have also reached out on social media via a website, StuckInYemen.com, and via Twitter where they use the hashtag #StuckInYemen, ABC said.

The State Department said that it warned U.S. citizens to leave in February. But many did not heed that guidance, saying they didn't expect Yemen to get so dangerous so quickly after a coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, launched airstrikes on Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran, and surged into the nation's capital in January.

Amid concerns over a nuclear arms deal, the U.S. has since broadened its role in Yemen "vetting military targets and searching vessels for Yemen-bound Iranian arms amid growing concerns about the goals of the Saudi-led mission," The Wall Street Journal reported.

More than 640 civilians have reportedly died in the unrest and U.S. fears are mounting over those losses, which could lead to diminished support for the fight in Yemen as well as from other Arab nations who back the Sunnis there. The U.S. is increasing efforts to block any arms shipments from Iran to the rebel forces, the Journal added, as Iran denies claims of support.

Noted the Journal of the regional imbalance created by the Yemen drama: "Prince Saud Al Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, underscored the tensions on Sunday, telling reporters his country is 'not at war with Iran' in Yemen. But he demanded Iran end its political and military support for the Houthis, who adhere to the Zaidi offshoot of Shiite Islam."

The U.N. on Friday called for a pause in the violence as the Red Cross delivered its first aid shipment since fighting began, the U.K.'s Daily Mail reported.

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About 140 Americans formerly living in Yemen have arrived to safety in Djibouti, a territory on the Horn of Africa, ABC News reported.
Americans, Yemen, Africa, Houthis, Saudi Arabia
Monday, 13 April 2015 11:36 AM
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