Sanaa, March 27 (IANS) As countries across the world are fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Yemen's warring factions were still focusing on their military activities rather than preparing for a possible outbreak.
The Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels were intensifying their efforts to spark new battles in different parts of the war-torn Arab country despite the UN's call for a ceasefire, Xinhua news agency reported.
Last week, hundreds of government troops with modern armoured vehicles arrived in the strategic city of Shuqrah on the Arabian Sea and began preparing for military offensives in the country's southern part.
In Shuqrah, the Yemeni government forces also began conducting military maneouvers attended by high-ranking commanders who arrived recently from the northeastern province of Marib.
An official of the Yemeni government forces told Xinhua on Thursday that the Saudi-brokered power-sharing deal signed between the Southern Transition Council (STC) and the government has completely ended.
"We are determined to come back to expel the STC's forces out from the state institutions in the southern provinces after the failure of Riyadh deal," the source said.
The rival parties didn't focus on the efforts on preventing a potential outbreak of the coronavirus in Yemen which is already facing the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
On Tuesday, the forces linked to Yemen's government clashed with the STC's security units tasked with securing the strategic southern city of Aden, causing panic among local residents.
An official of the Aden-based STC told Xinhua that Yemen's government did not want to combine the efforts to focus on fighting the coronavirus.
He said that Aidarous Zubaidi, president of the STC, called on all the political parties in Yemen to work together in order to jointly fight the coronavirus.
Zubaidi ordered the security units that are controlling Aden to shut down crowded markets as a precautionary measure and also direct an emergency committee to increase cooperation with the local health organizations.
"Most of the government officials are based in other countries and paid no attention to our calls aimed at combining the efforts and reducing the suffering of the Yemeni citizens," the source said.
He accused other factions of preparing for invading Aden with no regard to humanitarian risks that will affect the people living there.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate global ceasefire and ending the hostilities, to focus on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the Iranian-backed Houthis continued pushing for more military offensives against several areas in the country's northeastern part.
During the past two days, the Houthis mobilized hundreds of young fighters and pushed for invading the oil-rich province of Marib just days after capturing the strategic neighboring province of al-Jawf.
Elsewhere in Yemen, the Houthis launched sporadic attacks against the southern province of Dhalea that's considered the main gate of the neighboring provinces such as Lahj and Aden.
Both health authorities in the government-controlled southern provinces and in the Houthi-controlled northern provinces have not reported any coronavirus cases so far.