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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Aden - Sanaa - Ali Rabih and Asharq Al-Awsat

‘Massacre of the Hungry’ in Sanaa Leaves More than 200 Dead, Wounded

Yemenis in Sanaa next to the school that witnessed the stampede (Reuters)

Medical sources in Sanaa reported that more than 200 people were killed and wounded in what has come to be called the “massacre of the hungry”.

The stampede tragedy occurred when hundreds of people in the poverty-hit country had gathered at a school in the capital Sanaa to receive cash handouts of 5,000 Yemeni Rials (around $8).

Sources said that dozens of men, women and children were killed, and more than 150 others were injured, while Houthi health officials reported that 78 people were killed and 77 others were hospitalized, including 13 in critical condition.

The Houthi group tried to evade responsibility, claiming that it had set up a committee to investigate the incident.

The Yemeni government’s information minister, Muammar al-Eryani, blamed the militia for causing widespread hunger.

In remarks on Twitter, the minister said: “Those who bear responsibility for the incident are the ones who plundered food from the mouths of the hungry, imposed restrictions on international relief organizations, prevented merchants and philanthropists from distributing alms to the needy, plundered zakat and endowment funds, and imposed illegal fees and levies.”

Video broadcast by Al Masirah TV channel showed a cluster of bodies packed together, with people climbing on top of each other to try to make their way through.

UN Envoy in Yemen Hans Grundberg tweeted: “I and everyone in my office are pained and deeply saddened by the tragic stampede in Sanaa on the eve of Eid. My heartfelt condolences go out to all Yemenis grieving today and I wish the injured a speedy recovery.”

Yemeni activists said that the stampede occurred when gunmen, who are believed to be affiliated with the Houthi group, suddenly fired heavy gunfire, which caused panic among the crowds.

The painful incident that claimed dozens of lives coincided with a series of international warnings that about 25.5 million people in Yemen out of a total population of 30 million are now living below the poverty line, and are in dire need of urgent support.

In a joint report, the World Food Program (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UNICEF pointed to the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen, saying that the number of people who are likely to be unable to meet their minimum food needs was likely to reach 19 million.

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