SANAA, Yemen 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC), which declared self-rule in southern Yemen last week, has discussed regional developments with Russia, it said on Wednesday.

The council’s president, Aidarus al-Zoubaidi, in a phone call with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov explained the latest on military, political and humanitarian front, according to a statement on STC’s website. 

The rationale behind the declaration of self-governance in the southern provinces, including Aden, also came under discussion.

It was al-Zoubaidi’s first statement since the announcement of self-rule on April 25 amid widespread condemnation.

“These measures aim to solve the problems of the people caused by the recent unprecedented floods and the threat of an effective spread of coronavirus infection in the region,” he said.

The UAE is part of the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia which launched a military intervention in support of the Yemeni government in 2015. But still it supports the southern separatists.

The Yemeni government and five provinces in southern Yemen — Hadhramaut, Shabwa, al-Mahra, Abyan and the administration of Socotra — have rejected the STC’s move, warning of “dangerous and catastrophic consequences.”

Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in March 2015 after Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized the capital Sanaa, and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee the country.

Over five years of conflict have left thousands of civilians dead and 3.65 million internally displaced, according to the UN. Its impact on the country’s infrastructure has been devastating, with major overland routes and airports severely damaged.

The World Food Programme says that despite ongoing humanitarian assistance, at least 15.9 million people wake up hungry every day. It is estimated that, in the absence of food assistance, this number would go up to 20 million. Nearly half of Yemen’s over 30 million people are in need immediate assistance to sustain or save their lives. 

Yemen has so far confirmed only one case of coronavirus, the infection that has killed over 217,000 people worldwide.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat in Ankara

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