As Yemenis flee, State Department tells U.S. citizens to ‘shelter in place’

BBC News reports: Dozens of Yemenis have crossed the Gulf of Aden in small boats to get to Somalia, Djibouti and Somaliland to escape fighting and Saudi air strikes, the UN refugee agency has said.

The UNHCR said it was looking for a possible site for the refugees in Djibouti in case the fighting worsens.

At the same time Somali refugees are still continuing to arrive in Yemen to escape violence and poverty at home.

Yemen hosts more than 238,000 Somali refugees, the UNHCR says.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has expressed its concern but offered no tangible assistance to U.S. citizens in Yemen: The level of instability and ongoing threats in Yemen remain extremely concerning. There are no plans for a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of U.S. citizens at this time. To avoid placing themselves in greater danger, U.S. citizens are encouraged to shelter in place until the situation stabilizes. If you feel that your current location is no longer safe, you should carefully assess the potential risks involved in moving to a different location.

Reuters reports: Houthi fighters and allied army units clashed with local militias in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on Sunday, and eyewitnesses said gun battles and heavy shelling ripped through a downtown district near the city’s port.

The Houthi forces have been battling to take Aden, a last foothold of fighters loyal to Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, advancing to the city center despite 11 days of air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition of mainly Gulf air forces.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia launched the air strikes on March 26 in an attempt to turn back the Iran-allied Shi’ite Houthis, who already control Yemen’s capital Sanaa, and restore some of Hadi’s crumbling authority.

The air and sea campaign has targeted Houthi convoys, missiles and weapons stores and cut off any possible outside reinforcements – although the Houthis deny Saudi accusations that they are armed by Tehran.

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