Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Bahah flew into the devastated port of Aden from Saudi exile Saturday, two weeks after loyalist forces ousted Shiite rebels from the city, an airport source said.
He was followed by several more officials, whose task will be to restore normality and public services to a city battered by four months of ferocious combat.
Bahah, who is also vice president of the internationally recognized government, fled into exile with President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and the rest of his team earlier this year when the rebels entered Aden, their last refuge.
Impoverished Yemen has been rocked by fighting between the Huthi rebels and Hadi loyalists, who have received air support from a Saudi-led coalition.
The United Nations say the war has killed nearly 4,000 people, half of them civilians, while 80 percent of the 21 million population is in need of aid and protection.
On Monday, a humanitarian pause declared by the coalition went into effect but it collapsed the next day.
An airport source said Bahah arrived on a Saudi military plane, becoming the highest-ranking official to return to the city since the government announced its liberation in mid-July.
Bahah promised in an arrival statement that “normal life” would return to a “liberated Aden” and that he would be visiting people wounded in the fighting.
Sources close to the prime minister said he would spend a few hours in Aden before leaving for an undisclosed destination.
Several government officials also arrived in Aden on a separate plane from Saudi Arabia, said Human Rights Minister Ezzedine al-Isbahi.
He told AFP they would supervise work underway to reopen public buildings, including the resumption of broadcast at the state television and radio, and restoration of services in the battered city
The interior and transport ministers toured parts of Aden in mid-July during a brief visit to assess the damage from the fighting.
They also looked at ways to fully reopen the ports and airport to allow the delivery of desperately needed relief supplies.
Fighting, air strikes continue
The head of the Red Crescent in Aden, Ahmed Mansur, told AFP the charity had received food aid from the United Arab Emirates and was able to hand out 20,000 rations to residents of three neighborhoods.
Yemen depends on imports for most of its supplies, including food, medicine and fuel.
More than 10 million are struggling to obtain food and water, the UN says.
An AFP correspondent who toured Aden said authorities have managed to partially reopen main roads in the city after removing debris from the war, including burned out military vehicles and cars.
Residents have also ventured outdoors to take stock of the damage. Some returning from other areas of the city to homes devastated by the fighting.
Government forces were pressing an advance Saturday north and east of Aden to dislodge rebels who are still entrenched in the Lahj and Abyan provinces, officials and witnesses said.
Coalition warplanes carried out stepped up raids late Friday and early Saturday against rebels holed up in the strategic Al-Anad airbase in Lahj province, military sources said.
Strikes also targeted the southeastern province of Taez, where fighting killed 47 rebels and five pro-government forces, they added.
Meanwhile, witnesses reported that coalition warplanes also bombarded the province of Mareb east of Sanaa and the rebel stronghold of Saada in the north on Saturday.
The rebels and their allies remain in control of the capital Sanaa and large swathes of the country.