The Red Cross has responded to Saudi Arabia’s letter ordering them and all humanitarian groups out of Shi’ite-controlled northern Yemen by rejecting it, saying their mission often requires going into dangerous areas, and that they remain committed to aiding civilians across Yemen.
The letter went public yesterday when the UN aid agency reported receiving the letter, and similarly rejected the demand to stay out of rebel territory, while warning the Saudis that international law obliges them to allow humanitarian aid groups to access war zones.
The Saudis have been taken to task repeatedly by humanitarian groups for the massive civilian death toll of their air war on Yemen, and for using their naval blockade of the Yemeni coast to limit food shipments into the country, which relies almost exclusively on food imports.
Indeed, a recent UN report concluded the Saudis have been “systematically” targeting civilians in Yemen, declaring their behavior a crime against humanity. That was followed up by a Saudi pledge to seek US and British help in limiting civilian casualties. It is unclear what’s resulted from that, however, except the letter ordering aid workers away from those civilians.