World Bulletin / News Desk
Former Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh said he would not leave the country in a post on his official Facebook page on Friday, contradicting reports in the Gulf Arab media that he sought a safe exit.
"I'm not the type who goes looking for a place to live in Jeddah, Paris or Europe. My country is my birthplace. The person who can say to Ali Abdullah Saleh 'leave your country' has not been and will not be born," he wrote.
A Saudi-led alliance has been bombing Yemen's Iran-allied Houthi rebels and army units loyal to Saleh for three weeks, fuelling speculation that he might seek a political settlement that protects him and his powerful family.
The United Nations, meanwhile, said about 150,000 people had been driven from their homes by three weeks of air strikes and ground fighting and more than 750 people killed.
Many schools, hospitals and mosques had been damaged or destroyed in the conflict, it said.
A Saudi-led coalition began its air campaign on March 25 after the Houthi rebels, who run most of the country, closed in on the southern port city of Aden and forced the Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour to flee to Riyadh.
Despite being forced to step down in 2012 under a Gulf-brokered transition plan following protests against his 22-year rule, he won immunity in the deal and has remained a powerful political player.
U.N. APPEAL FOR FUNDS
In Geneva on Friday, the U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA said about 150,000 people have been displaced -- 50 percent more than the previous U.N. estimate. Health facilities had reported 767 deaths from March 19 to April 13, almost certainly an underestimate, it said.
"Ordinary families are struggling to access health care, water, food and fuel - basic requirements for their survival."
The fighting had destroyed, damaged or disrupted at least five hospitals, 15 schools, Yemen's three main airports, two bridges, two factories and four mosques, as well as markets, power stations and water and sanitation facilities, OCHA said.
Public water services were on the verge of collapse and hospitals were overwhelmed with casualties.
In other developments, military units protecting the Masila oil fields, Yemen's largest, withdrew on Friday and handed over security to armed local tribes, the tribesmen and oil company employees told Reuters.
The oil industry is watching the conflict with concern as Yemen lies on shipping lanes and the narrow Bab el-Mandeb passage, through which nearly 4 million barrels of oil are shipped daily to international markets.
The conflict also has wider strategic dimensions. The United States has poured aid and personnel into Yemen in recent years as part of its war on rebel forces but its military teams evacuated last month.Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Nisan 2015, 16:46