Scores Killed At Charity Event In Yemen

Thursday, April 20, 2023 | Tag Cloud Tags: ,

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

SANAA (Worthy News) – At least 85 people, including women and children, were killed and over 300 injured in wartorn Yemen’s deadliest stampede in years after gunfire erupted during a charity event in Sanaa, the capital, officials said Thursday.

The tragedy began late Wednesday as people lined up to receive money, an arguably rare commodity for many in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country.

The charity event was held to mark Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide by feasting to mark the end of their fasting month of Ramadan.

However, as the crowd gathered, armed Houthis fired into the air to control the crowd, apparently striking an electrical wire and causing an explosion, witnesses said.

Abdel-Rahman Ahmed and Yahia Mohsen told reporters that the firing sparked panic and said people, including many women and children, began running.

Hundreds of people had gathered at a Sanaa to receive cash handouts of 5,000 Yemeni Rials (around $8).

At least “85 were killed, and more than 322 were injured” in the stampede in the Bab al-Yemen district of the capital, a Huthi security official said, adding that around 50 were in serious condition.


“Women and children were among the dead,” the official said on condition of anonymity. A second health official confirmed the toll, news reports said.

The Huthi-run interior ministry said the dead and injured have been relocated to hospitals, and those responsible for the event arrested.

The tragedy also added to the suffering of minority Christians as more than eight years of civil war in Yemen had already unleashed what the United Nations called one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.

The conflict began in 2014 when Iran-backed Huthi rebels seized Sanaa, prompting a
Saudi Arabia-led coalition to intervene to back the internationally recognized government.

Hundreds of thousands have died in the war though observers say fighting has eased since the six-month, UN-brokered truce last year.

But more than two-thirds of the population still lives in poverty, according to the UN, including government employees in Huthi-controlled areas who have not been paid in years.

Over 21.7 million people — two-thirds of the country — need humanitarian assistance this year, according to the United Nations.


Among those in need are Christians who are in an “extremely dangerous” situation and could be killed, said rights investigators referring to the country’s strict Islamic laws and militant Islamic groups.

“The population is overwhelmingly Muslim, and it is illegal to convert from Islam to Christianity. Yemen is strongly tribal, and tribal law prohibits members of the tribe from leaving,” explained the advocacy group Open Doors.

Especially, “Yemeni Christian converts are at great risk of being killed, not just ostracised or expelled, by their families, clans, and tribes.”

Islamic extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group reportedly threaten so-called ‘apostates’ with death if they do not return to Islam.

“In other areas, including those controlled by Houthis, converts risk imprisonment. In detention centers, Christian detainees have reportedly suffered physical and mental torture,” Open Doors stressed.

Most believers from a Muslim background choose to practice their faith covertly, according to sources familiar with the situation.

They cannot gather together because of the growing fear that neighbors will report them to the local authorities, Christians added.

Even displaying Christian symbols could lead “directly to imprisonment, physical abuse or even execution,” Open Doors explained.

Yemen currently ranks 3rd on the Open Doors annual World Watch List of the top 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution.

Christians comprise less than 1 percent of the nation’s nearly 36 million people, who are mainly Muslims, according to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

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