Thursday 29 September 2016

Authorities in contact with Irish citizen in Yemen

Published 07/04/2015 | 15:17

People gather around the wreckage of a house destroyed by an air strike in the Bait Rejal village, west of Yemen's capital Sanaa. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
People gather around the wreckage of a house destroyed by an air strike in the Bait Rejal village, west of Yemen's capital Sanaa. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Embassy staff are in contact with an Irish citizen in besieged Yemen about a possible evacuation from the country.

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Fighting intensified in Yemen's second-largest city, Aden, this week leaving streets littered with dead bodies, as Shiite rebels and their allies waged their strongest push yet to seize control of the main bastion of supporters of their rival, the country's embattled president.

An Irish man was evacuated from the war-torn country last week, while another man remains in the country.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade is aware of one Dual Irish-Yemeni citizen who remains in Yemen," said a spokeswoman.

"The Department through the Embassy of Ireland, Riyadh is maintaining contact with the citizen, including as regards possible departure options.

Last week an Irish man was one of 225 foreign nationals picked up from Aden, Yemen’s second city, and transported to Dijbouti.

Consular staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs assisted in the evacuation.

Read more: Irish citizen evacuated from Yemen amid political upheaval and violence

The Department has advised Irish citizens not to travel to Yemen, and recently called on all Irish nationals to leave the Arab country immediately.

China is the latest country to temporarily closed its embassy and consulate general in Yemen because of worsening security there.

Meanwhile UNICEF said at least 74 children have been killed since the Yemen conflict intensified almost two weeks ago and more than 100,000 people have left their homes in search of safety.

Read more: At least 74 children killed in Yemen conflict in past fortnight

Earlier Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for Iran to get involved in a debate on security in Yemen as parliament resumed debate on whether Pakistan should join a Saudi-led campaign against Iran-allied Yemeni forces.

Sharif addressed parliament a day after the defense minister revealed Saudi wanted Pakistani warplanes, warships and soldiers. Not a single MP has spoken in favor of sending troops.

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Saudi Arabia, the Gulf's main Sunni Muslim power, has asked Sunni-majority Pakistan to join a Saudi-led military coalition that began conducting air strikes last month against largely Shi'ite Houthi forces in Yemen.

Pakistani intervention would anger Shi'ite power Iran, which shares a long and porous border in a region roiling with its own separatist insurgency.

The Iranian foreign minister visits Pakistan on Wednesday and discussions on Yemen are expected to dominate the meeting. Sharif said he welcomed Iranian input.

Read more: Fighting intensifies in Yemen city

"Iran should also join the discussion and evaluate whether their policy is correct or not," Sharif said.

Sharif has repeatedly said he will defend any threat to Saudi Arabia's "territorial integrity" without defining what threat that could be, or what action he would take.

Joining the Saudi-led coalition could inflame a sectarian conflict at home where about a fifth of the population is Shi'ite and attacks on Shi'ites are increasing, further destabilizing the nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people.

"If we get involved in Yemen, a huge blaze will once again erupt in our country," veteran opposition lawmaker Ghulam Ahmed Bilour told parliament. "My army is not a rent-an-army."

(Additional reporting Reuters)

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