Iran's Khamenei backs Yemen's Houthi movement and calls for dialogue
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pledged on Tuesday Tehran's continued support for Yemen's Houthi movement and called for dialogue among Yemenis to safeguard the war-shattered nation's territorial integrity.
A Saudi-led coalition has been battling to restore Yemen's ousted government in a devastating four-year war with the Iranian-aligned Houthis that has killed tens of thousands and pushed the impoverished country to the brink of famine.
The Houthis, who control the capital Sanaa and most of Yemen's other populous areas, have stepped up attacks in recent months against targets in Saudi Arabia, Iran's arch regional foe. In response, a Saudi-led coalition has targeted military sites belonging to the Houthis, especially around Sanaa.
"I declare my support for the resistance of Yemen's believing men and women ... Yemen’s people... will establish a strong government," state TV quoted Khamenei as saying in a meeting with the visiting chief negotiator of the Houthi movement Mohammed Abdul-Salam.
Khamenei, who held talks for the first time in Tehran with a senior Houthi representative, also called for "strong resistance against the Saudi-led plots to divide Yemen", the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Yemeni refugees: destination Djibouti
When it comes to refugees, the focus of Western media in recent months has been on the desperate people trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe and those trying to cross the Indian Ocean to reach Indonesia and Malaysia. However, refugees from Yemen are also taking on the perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden in an attempt to reach the Republic of Djibouti, one of the world's poorest countries. Qantara.de presents impressions of Markazi refugee camp in Djibouti. All photos by Andreas Stahl
Aiham Ehab Makyam, 21, and Gofran Hussein Mohammed, 22, arrived in Djibouti by boat from Aden in late May. Today, Djibouti is the only neighbouring country that is accepting refugees from Yemen. Crossing the Gulf of Aden is the only way to get there.
Yemeni boat people: many of the Yemeni refugees who arrive by boat in the nation's capital (also called Djibouti) are told to take the ferry to the small town of Obock where Markazi refugee camp is located. Two thirds of the national population live in the city of Djibouti, where the unemployment rate is 50 per cent.
Searching for a better future: Aiham Ehab Makyam, 21, sits in his tent in the UNCHR-hosted refugee camp near Obock in Djibouti. He left his family in Aden after his father told him that he still has a chance of a better future. In Yemen, says Aiham, that is impossible.
Tent city: the UNHCR has provided tents for Markazi refugee camp (pictured here). As of 20 May, the camp was home to 1,055 refugees, but that number is expected to continue to grow rapidly as the conflict in Yemen shows no sign of abating.
Lost childhoods: this photo shows one of the many child refugees in Markazi refugee camp. Many parents have fled to Djibouti with their children. How their childhood will develop is uncertain, but at least they are safe here: after all, the conflict in Yemen has killed over 1,900 people, including 149 children.
Refugee children from Yemen play football in Markazi refugee camp as the sun goes down. According to UNICEF, almost 8 million children in Yemen are suffering from the effects of the conflict and are in need of humanitarian assistance. In Yemen, there is an acute lack of food and drinking water.
Unbearable heat: because of the extreme heat in the tents, many Yemeni refugees in the camp sleep outside. During the day, the temperatures can soar above 40 °C. At night, however, things are little better: temperatures rarely drop below 30 °C. Pictured here: a UNHCR refugee tent in Markazi refugee camp.
Aiham Ehab Makyam sleeps outside his tent. "It is too hot to sleep inside the tent, and as soon the sun starts to go up in the morning, you need to find a place with shadows", he says.
A refugee from Yemen prays outside his tent in Markazi refugee camp near Obock, Djibouti. As of 2 June, the UN estimated that around 16 million people in Yemen were in need of humanitarian assistance.
At night, 21-year-old Aiham Ehab Makyam makes a fire to bring some light to the night-time refugee camp.
"A unified and coherent Yemen with sovereign integrity should be endorsed. Given Yemen’s religious and ethnic diversity, protecting Yemen’s integrity requires domestic dialogue," he said, TV reported.
Iran's clerical rulers reject accusations from the United States and its Gulf Arab allies that Tehran is providing military and financial support to the Houthis and blames Riyadh for the deepening crisis there.
Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency said the Houthi delegation, which arrived in Tehran a few days ago, had handed a letter to Khamenei from the movement's leader, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, but gave no details. (Reuters)