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Russia Calls For Pause In Yemen Air Strikes

Followers of the Huthi group demonstrate against the Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen in Sanaa on April 1.

Russia has urged the UN Security Council to call for a pause in air strikes on Yemen, as a Saudi-led coalition pounded rebels in the country for a 10th day.

Russia circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member council during closed-door consultations on April 4.

Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of Arab states in an air campaign against Shi'ite Huthi rebels and their allies, who have been fighting against supporters of Yemen’s beleaguered president.

The coalition has taken control of Yemeni air space and ports since it began its offensive 10 days ago.

The Russian draft resolution demands "regular and obligatory humanitarian pauses in the air strikes by the coalition to allow all concerned states and international organizations to evacuate their citizens and personnel."

The text also "demands rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access."

It makes no mention of a halt to fighting by the Iran-backed Huthis.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), meanwhile, called for an immediate 24-hour halt to hostilities in Yemen.

The organization said in a statement, “All air, land and sea routes must be opened without delay for at least 24 hours to enable help to reach people cut off after more than a week of intense air strikes and fierce ground fighting nationwide.”

It said three Yemen Red Crescent volunteers had lost their lives in the last week in "targeted attacks while coming to the aid of people who had been wounded in fighting."

The UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, Valerie Amos, said the violence in Yemen had killed at least 519 people in the past two weeks, 90 of them children, and that tens of thousands were fleeing their homes.

Shi'ite fighters continued to advance despite the air strikes, which are aimed at restoring authority to Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled the port city of Aden last week in the face of the Huthi offensive.

Saudi Arabia, which borders Yemen, has vowed to continue the bombing campaign until Hadi, a Sunni, is reinstated.

The violence has raised the prospect of wider conflict with Iran, believed to be backing the Huthis.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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