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Thursday, April 9, 2015, Chaitra 26, 1421 BS, Jamadius Sani 18, 1436 Hijr

Evacuation of Bangladesh nationals from Yemen halted
Published : Thursday, 9 April, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 232

Saleem Samad
The repatriation of Bangladeshi migrants and other foreign nationals have temporarily been halted on Wednesday after Ansar Ullah fighters, also known as Houthi rebels, are fighting street battles in the port city of Aden.
Bangladesh Counsellor SM Mahbubul Alam presently in Djibouti has finally abandoned the idea to move the evacuation mission to Aden.
The Bangladesh officials in Djibouti are still hopeful that they would find means  to evacuate the Bangladesh nationals as all possible alternatives have not been tried as most countries are looking for other routes to evacuate their nationals.
The Indian Air Force C-17 flight from Djibouti has been delayed to accommodate more evacuees stranded in troubled Aden port, which was until recently declared a safe zone for evacuation of beleaguered migrants in war-torn Yemen.
Nearly 50 Bangladesh nationals have managed to reach Malla in Aden port. But the anxious Bangladeshi could not find any ship ready for sail for Djibouti. There are few hundred other nationals crowded in the port area and they are frantically seeking information for the next departure of ships.
Apart from Bangladeshis who took shelter inside the port, the other panic stricken migrants in the port are from Yemen, India, Pakistan, Britain, United States, China and several other countries.
Several countries have been evacuating their nationals from Yemen following the start of airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition of 10 Arab countries on March 26.
US along France, Germany and Sweden, besides 22 other nations including Bangladesh, have sought India's assistance to evacuate its citizens from violence hit Yemen.
This is significant considering the fact that the US has strong naval presence as well as deployment of its Air Force in West Asia. France also has presence of its Navy in the region to counter piracy.
All the stranded migrants at Aden port are destined for Djibouti. The Bangladeshis who have managed to reach the port have experienced gun battles with Houthi rebels and troops loyal to President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who has fled to Saudi Arabia.
One of the Bangladeshis told The Daily Observer over phone that while entering Aden, they crossed several check posts manned by either loyal troops or Houthi rebels, but they did not stop them, nor threatened them with life.
They heard loud bangs of heavy weapons and intermittent gun fire of the troops loyal to Hadi resisting the Houthis from entering Aden, the alternative capital of Hadi's government, after the president fled the capital Sana'a two weeks ago.
At Aden the Bangladesh nationals heard the announcement over loudspeakers of several mosques urging Yemenis to join the loyal troops to resist the onslaught of the Houthis.
It was confirmed that there was no reports of casualty of Bangladeshis living in Aden. They also said that Houthi rebels asked the migrants to leave the towns as they would die if they decided to stay.
They also confirmed the plights of hundreds of Bangladeshis stranded in different places after the civil war broke out.
The panicked Bangladeshis described that they have seen long queues of cars at petrol stations in Yemen's capital Sana'a in the past few days amid acute fuel shortages.
The grocery stores were running short of flour to make breads, as the public are hoarding basic essential goods.
The fear that the market will run out of such essentials has driven up prices. Incidentally, Yemen imports 90 per cent of its food. With the coalition forces imposing air and naval blockade, the situation has further deteriorated.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), food insecurity is a chronic problem, with half of Yemenis suffering from food insecurity. While humanitarian organisations warn that the latest conflict risks exacerbating what is already a dire humanitarian situation.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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