Yemen's war-weary Taiz choked by siege despite truce

i24NEWS - AFP

3 min read
Vehicles travel along a heavily damaged road in Taiz, Yemen, on September 23, 2020.
AHMAD AL-BASHA / AFPVehicles travel along a heavily damaged road in Taiz, Yemen, on September 23, 2020.

The long-besieged city of Taiz was cut off from the world in 2015 soon after fighting broke out

Overloaded trucks and cars packed with families ply narrow, bumpy mountain roads surrounding the Yemeni city of Taiz, long-besieged by Houthi rebels – evidence that the terms of a truce are not being met.

Announced just over a month ago, the truce called for warring parties to reopen the main roads into Taiz, a city of roughly 600,000 people in Yemen's southwest that was cut off from the world in 2015 soon after fighting broke out.

However, those roads remain closed, meaning truck drivers and ordinary civilians have no choice but to seek out dangerous alternative routes prone to accidents and seemingly endless traffic jams. 

In normal times, one such road known as "Al-Aqroudh” should allow drivers to reach the village of Al-Hawban east of Taiz in just 15 minutes. But now the trip can take up to eight hours.

"People are tired, especially children and women. We wait in traffic jams for three or four hours because of the narrowness of the road," truck driver Abdo al-Jaachani told AFP

These days he only uses the road once or twice a week to avoid a rough journey that is compounded by the wear-and-tear on vehicles as well as the rising price of fuel. 

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The two-month “Ramadan truce” was mired by reports of violations only hours after being implemented, with both sides blaming the other for carrying out attacks. 

Yemen's war pits the Iran-aligned Houthis against the Saudi-led military coalition backing the country's internationally recognized government. 

The Houthis took control of the capital Sanaa in 2014, prompting the coalition to intervene the following year and giving rise to what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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