Apr 19, 2023 - World

Scores killed in stampede in Yemen's capital, officials say

A picture shows a view of the old city of the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Feb. 24. Photo: Mohammed Huwais/AFP via Getty Image

At least 78 people were killed in a stampede at a financial aid distribution event in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, late Wednesday, Reuters reported, citing official Houthi media.

Driving the news: Witnesses told AP that the stampede took place when an electrical line exploded after armed Houthi rebels fired into the air to try to control the crowd.

  • The event was organized by merchants to give out charitable donations at a school to mark the final days of the holy month of Ramadan, per Reuters. Dozens were injured, AP reported.
  • Houthi officials said two of the event's organizers had been detained and an investigation was underway.

The big picture: The war in Yemen, now in its ninth year, has caused one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. More than two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the United Nations.

  • The UN estimates that bout 21.6 million people — nearly three-quarters of the population — will need some form of humanitarian assistance and protection this year.

State of play: The Iran-back Houthi rebels have been in control of Sanaa since they stormed the capital in 2014 and toppled the internationally recognized government.

  • A Saudi-led coalition has waged an aerial campaign against Houthis since 2015.

The conflict is widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

  • Hundreds of thousands of people have died in the war due to direct and indirect causes and millions have been displaced.
  • Iran and Saudi Arabia's decision to reestablish full diplomatic relations earlier this year have renewed hopes that the warring parties can reach a permanent cease-fire to end the conflict. A delegation of Omani and Saudi diplomats recently visited Sana'a and met with senior Houthi officials, Axios' Barak Ravid reports.
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