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Thousands of Yemeni families displaced after heavy clashes: UN

AFP , Tuesday 3 Mar 2020
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More than 2,000 families have been displaced after heavy fighting in northern Yemen, the United Nations said Tuesday, after the Houthi rebels seized control of a provincial capital.

The Iran-backed Houthis took control of Al-Hazm, capital of the northern province of Al-Jawf, on Sunday, government sources told AFP.

The loss of the strategic city means the militia now threatens the oil-rich neighbouring province of Marib.

Since the fall of the city, "an estimated 1,800 families reportedly fled heavily populated districts of Al-Ghayl and Al-Hazm in Al-Jawf", the UN humanitarian coordination agency OCHA said in a statement.

It added that "2,100 displaced families reached Marib on March 1".

Al-Jawf has been mostly controlled by the Houthis, but its capital -- only 150 kilometres (90 miles) south of the border with Saudi Arabia -- had been in the hands of the government.

Yemen's internationally recognised government has been battling the Houthi rebels since 2014 when they captured the capital Sanaa and swathes of the impoverished Arab nation.

The government has been backed by a Saudi-led military coalition since 2015.

Since the war started in March 2015, tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced, in what the UN has termed the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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