It's critical to prevent a battle for key port in Yemen

Blanche Robertson
June 14, 2018

Hodeidah is a vital lifeline for the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the Houthi-controlled northern provinces, including the country's capital Sanaa.

"While the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies are reconfiguring their presence it's also our planned intention though to stay and deliver".

"We are, at the present moment, in intense consultation", UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Monday.

The coalition backing Yemen government troops has been closing in on Hodeida after accusing Houthi rebels of smuggling weapons through the port.

Correspondence sent from European donor governments to aid groups in Yemen on Saturday warned that "a military assault now looks imminent", according to the text of the correspondence seen by Reuters. It said the UAE had given the agency a notice to evacuate.

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Burt said: "The UN special envoy has previously expressed concern that conflicts in Hodeidah could take peace off the table "in a single stroke".

The UN and aid agencies have pleaded with the Saudi-led force against an attack on Hodeida, warning that it could lead to mass civilian casualties and starvation.

The Iran-backed rebels, who have so far refused to withdraw from the port, claim 418 loyalist fighters have been killed. UN Yemen mediator Martin Griffiths has been holding talks with the Houthis to hand over control of the port to the United Nations, Yemeni political sources have said. It also provides the rebels with critical access to the Red Sea.

Hodeidah is a critical point for nearly 80 percent of aid entering Yemen, which is in a situation the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Though the USA government has rhetorically opposed an offensive, the administration appears to be washing its hands of the UAE's actions and will do nothing to intervene. The emergency meeting was called by the United Kingdom, according to the Netherlands' UN Ambassador Karel J.G. van Oosterom. "Cutting off imports through Hodeidah for any length of time will put Yemen's population at extreme, unjustifiable risk".

Yemen relies on imports for 90 percent of its food and 70% of those transit through Hodeida, Lowcock said. Officials issued a statement Monday that Yemen analyst Adam Baron described as a "yellow light" for the Yemen offensive. Clashes have occasionally broken out between the two coalition allies. "If the Houthis dig in, this could be a bloody street battle comparable to Aleppo", Baron, the analyst, said.

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