AL-MUKALLA: The Yemeni villagers stood in silence, but the words on their placards spoke volumes.
“On TV, we see a truce, but on the ground, we see blood, body parts and siege,” read a poster carried by two veiled women and a child.
The unequivocal message was delivered by families in the southwestern Yemeni city of Taiz who held a silent vigil on Saturday to denounce the Houthi shelling of their homes and demand the militia lift its eight-year siege of the center.
Carrying posters that condemned the Houthi attacks, men, women and children from the residential village of Al-Sailah stood in a line outside their homes to draw attention to deadly militia strikes that have killed and wounded many people, including a child.
“We appeal to the world to act to stop the killing of civilians by the Houthis in Taiz,” read another poster.
During the vigil, a Houthi shell exploded near the gathering, Maher Al-Abessi, a local journalist, told Arab News by telephone.
“Shrapnel from the shell fell near us. Luckily, no one was hurt,” he said.
The vigil came less than a day after a mortar shell fired by the Houthis ripped through a house in Al-Sailah, killing a 5-year-old child and fatally wounding his parents.
Shelling and other strikes by the Houthis on the besieged city have sparked outrage across Yemen at a time when the UN Yemen envoy is pressuring Yemeni parties to uphold a two-month ceasefire.
“Since the truce was announced, Houthi missiles have intensified and their crimes against civilians in Taiz have multiplied,” Mohammed Al-Omada, head of the Yemeni Network for Rights and Freedoms, tweeted.
Sharing an image of the dead child, Hamza Al-Jubaihi, a Yemeni activist who was once abducted and held in a Houthi prison, denounced the militia killing of civilians in Taiz and their violations of the truce.
“This innocent child was killed by the Houthis less than two hours ago with a terrorist shell, and his father and mother were wounded next to him in Taiz. This is the Houthi truce,” he said on Twitter.
Under the UN-brokered truce that came into effect on April 2, warring factions were expected to halt hostilities across Yemen, resume flights from Sanaa airport, and allow fuel ships to enter Hodeidah port, while a joint committee would convene to discuss opening roads in Taiz and the other cities.
The Yemeni government said that the Houthis are unwilling to lift their siege of Taiz and have failed to name their representatives on the committee.
On Thursday, the Yemeni government said it would allow passengers with Houthi-issued passports to fly from Sanaa airport, removing a barrier that obstructed the resumption of commercial flights from the Houthi-held Sanaa.
At the same time, a gathering of Yemeni NGOs that document war crimes said in a joint report that the Iran-backed Houthis had raided, blown up and destroyed 12,038 houses in 17 Yemeni provinces from July 2014 to December 2020, and are responsible for displacing hundreds of families living in the properties.
During this period, the Houthis blew up 853 homes, damaged or ruined 462 more and seized 243 houses as they sought to settle scores with people who allegedly opposed their military expansion across the country.
The Yemeni Coalition to Monitor Human Rights Violations, also known as Rasd Coalition, said that armed Houthis killed 566 civilians, including 51 children and 64 women, and wounded 740 more, including 97 children and 130 women, while raiding houses.
The raids violated religious and tribal norms that forbid terrorizing children and women or displacing them from their homes, the coalition report said.
At the end of the report, it named 29 Houthi leaders responsible for raiding houses, based on interviews with their victims, and demanded the militia stop the attacks and compensate families who had lost their homes.
Mutahar Al-Badhiji, the coalition’s executive director, called on human rights groups and journalists to work together to expose violations by the Houthis and pressure the militia to stop the attacks and release abducted civilians.
“There should be human rights and media campaigns directed at the militia to stop these practices and release the civilians who were kidnapped from their homes,” Al-Badhiji told Arab News.