Red Cross Aims To Fly Yemen Aid Planes Over Next 2 Days

04/07/2015 04:27 am ET | Updated Jun 06, 2015

DUBAI, April 7 (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross aims to fly two planes carrying 48 tonnes of medical help and other aid to Yemen over the next two days.

Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands uprooted in weeks of fighting in Yemen. The United Nations children's agency UNICEF said on Monday the conflict was pushing Yemen towards a humanitarian disaster.

Delivery of the aid shipments has been repeatedly held up as the ICRC negotiated clearance with the Saudi-led coalition which has mounted air strikes on Yemen's Houthi fighters for nearly two weeks. It also struggled to find aircraft to fly into Yemen.

ICRC spokeswoman Marie Claire Feghali said it planned to fly the first plane, which is loading up in Jordan with 16 tonnes of medical aid, to Yemen on Wednesday.

The second, carrying medical aid and other equipment including tents and generators, is being prepared in Geneva and will fly to Yemen on Thursday, she said.

Both flights have been cleared with the Saudi-led coalition.

Feghali said the Red Cross was still trying to get clearance for a boat to bring a team of surgeons from the ICRC and the humanitarian group Medecins Sans Frontieres to Aden from Djibouti.

The Iranian-allied Houthis control the capital Yemen and launched an assault on the southern city of Aden in March.

The United Nations says 549 people were killed and more than 1,700 wounded in the two weeks leading up to April 3. That figure includes at least 217 civilian deaths and 516 civilians wounded, many of them in suicide bombings at two Sanaa mosques on March 20 which killed 137 people.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said civilian casualty tolls frequently underestimate the real numbers because many families are unable to get relatives to hospital and may bury their dead before reports are collected.

At least 74 children have been killed since the start of the Saudi-led air strikes on March 26, UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac said. (Reporting by Dominic Evans in Dubai and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by William Maclean, Angus MacSwan and Crispian Balmer)

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