NEW DELHI: The fighting in Yemen where rebel Houthis are pitted against President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi backed by Saudi-led airstrikes is the setting for an unfolding humanitarian crisis.

Rights groups have said over 560 people have been killed in the fighting; 1700 have been injured and at least 10,000 have fled their homes since the conflict escalated three weeks ago, says the World Health Organisation.

Relief workers have warned of a dire situation as civilians in Yemen remain in need of urgent medical and food supplies. Sitara Jabeen, a Geneva-based spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, told Fox News that a cargo plane with 17 tons of medical supplies was in the Jordanian capital, Amman, awaiting the go-ahead from coalition forces to land in Sanaa. Another 35 tons of supplies were also ready for shipment, she said. "If these medical supplies do not reach Yemen, then unfortunately we are afraid many more people will die," Jabeen said.

Basharaheel Hisham Basharaheel, deputy editor of Al-Ayyam newspaper, told Al Jazeera: "People are running out of food. There is no water. No power supply… The hospitals are in a much worse shape. We see a lot of injured people with no means of saving them. No basic first aid kits, for example."

Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, said in an interview as quoted by the Washington Post that “we are engaging with international relief organizations to facilitate” the provision of aid. But he indicated that delivery of supplies by plane was unlikely, because Saudi airstrikes have destroyed runways and have “pretty much shut off Yemeni airports.”

In addition to the blockade, the fighting is impacting the delivery of aid and supplies on the ground. At least three Red Crescent volunteers were killed over the past week while trying to evacuate those wounded and retrieving dead bodies in Aden. The International Committee of the Red Cross called the killings deliberate in a statement and called for a humanitarian pause to the fighting so the supplies could be delivered. "There are dead bodies on the streets in Aden. This is why we called for 24-hour humanitarian pause in the fighting so that people can also go and collect the dead," the ICRC's Mari-Claire Feghali said (as quoted by Al Jazeera).

Julien Harneis, the Yemen representative for UNICEF, told the Washington Post that shrinking supplies of fuel are threatening the ability of municipalities to run ambulance services and of hospitals to refrigerate vaccines.

Further, the lack of fuel means that pumps cannot draw water from wells in this severely parched country. For years, analysts have predicted that Sanaa could become the first capital in the world to run out of water. “We’re worried that this system will totally break down shortly; Aden is a dry, hot place, and without water people will really suffer,” Harneis said.

Grant Pritchard, Oxfam’s director in Yemen, told the Post of “a humanitarian disaster on our hands in the coming weeks and months” if the fighting does not stop. Even before the current bout of fighting, he said, about 16 million Yemenis relied on humanitarian assistance. About 10 million did not have enough food to eat, while 9 million lacked basic medical care and 13 million did not have access to clean drinking water.

The fighting in Yemen has acquired a new context with a Saudi-led coalition beginning its military action against the Shiite Houthis -- who have deposed the Yemeni government and made a series of advances, most recently into Aden where Yemen’s current US and Saudi supported President, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, had fled to and is currently based. Last week, however, Hadi slipped out of Yemen and arrived at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt under the pretence of attending the Arab League Summit.

While the world watches in preparation for a possible Saudi-led ground invasion, Saudi Arabia has set up a blockade, cutting off Houthi supply lines whilst its air force takes control of Yemeni air space.

To provide further context, as Saudi Arabia steps up its offensive against the Houthis, the rebels, in turn, are allied with the region’s other political power -- Iran. As fighting continues, Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of aiding the rebels with weaponry and resources. Hadi, meanwhile, has denounced the rebels as Iran’s “puppet.” "I say to the puppet of Iran, and those who are with him, you destroyed Yemen with your immature politics, and creating internal and regional crisis," he said on Saturday.

Yemen, hence, is the battleground for the region -- split along sectarian lines. Backing Saudi Arabia in its latest offensive, called “Operation Decisive Storm” is the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Sudan.

(Source: CNN)

In addition to becoming the regional battlefield, the conflict in Iran is also symbolic of the United State’s confused policy regarding the middle east. In Yemen, the US is supporting Sunni rebels, whereas in Iraq and Syria, it is fighting Sunni rebels.

In fact, fighting the Shia Houthis is Yemen will serve to bolster the Sunni fighters active in the country -- namely, the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Further, it was also help the new kid on the block in Yemen -- the Islamic State, who the US-led coalition is battling in Iraq and Syria, with US aircraft, for the first time, pounding Islamic State positions in Tikrit on Thursday.

The setting in Yemen is now perfect for the Islamic State. Conflict organized along sectarian Shia-Sunni divisions, a powerful Saudi-led US-backed coalition bombing the key Shia rebel militia, the Houthis, thereby paving the way for Sunni militias like the AQAP and the Islamic State.

Earlier in March, the Islamic State carried out its first major attack within Yemen. Suicide bombers attacked two mosques linked to the Shiite Houthis, killing 137 and injuring 350 people. A group claiming to be a Yemeni branch of the Islamic State said it was responsible for the bombings.