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ICRC sounds alarm bell over fighting in northern Yemen

  |   Nov. 1, 2013 at 12:40 PM
SANAA, Yemen, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday it was alarmed by the reports of heavy fighting in northern Yemen.

"Since last week, the ongoing clashes have been preventing us reaching people who urgently need our help," Cedric Schweizer, the ICRC's chief delegate in Yemen, said in a statement Friday. "Every minute we lose waiting to get into Dammaj [a town in northern Saada province] and the surrounding area is a potential life lost."

The Yemen Post reported this week clashes erupted in the region after the Sunni Muslim fighters clashed with their Shiite rivals in the area.

The ICRC said it was alarmed by reports of heavy civilian casualties in the midst of the attacks. It said it was calling for an immediate cease-fire so it could respond to those in need.

"As soon as the fighting broke out, we contacted all the parties involved and requested access to provide medical care and evacuate the wounded," Schweizer said.

The BBC reported Wednesday at least four people were confirmed dead. The official Saba News Agency reported the Yemeni Interior Ministry was working with the ICRC and the humanitarian organization Doctors without Borders to address the crisis.

Houthis, a Shiite group operating in northern Yemen, started a rebellion against the government in 2004.

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