Arab states attack Yemen port key to feeding 8.4 million starving people
Arab states attack Yemen port key to feeding 8.4 million starving people
Saudi-Led Alliance Gears up for Assault on Key Yemeni Port City
14 June, 2018, 09:58
Meanwhile, according to The Wall Street Journal, there are signs that the USA military is deepening its role in the assault on Hudaydah, in spite of United Nations warnings of massive human casualties.
"More than two-thirds of the people of Yemen count on the food that is imported through the port of Hudaida", Veldwijk said.
Pro-government strikes began after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels ignored a deadline to withdraw by midnight (21:00 GMT on Tuesday).
In the meantime, the United Nations Security Council will urgently meet on Thursday, reportedly following a request from the United Kingdom, which, alongside the USA, is quite ironically one of Saudi Arabia's top arms suppliers and has repeatedly been accused of hypocritically profiteering from the conflict in Yemen. Houthi rebels are a Zaydi Shiite religious minority who seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 and now control a significant amount of territory in western Yemen.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and a bloc of other countries intervened in Yemen the following year with the goal of restoring the government to power. Both Iran and the rebels deny this.
Houthi rebels, meanwhile, said they had struck a coalition warship with missiles although there was no confirmation of this.
"The coalition's operations to liberate Hodeidah is part of the Coalition's unwavering commitment to support the people of Yemen against the tyranny imposed by Iranian-backed militias that are spreading chaos and destruction in Yemen", Khalid bin Salman wrote in a tweet.
In Geneva, ICRC spokeswoman Marie-Claire Feghali said that the assault was "likely to exacerbate an already catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen", where water and electricity networks are vital to the civilian population's survival.
It estimates that 600,000 people live in the area, and in a worst-case scenario, a battle could cost up to 250,000 lives, as well as cutting off aid and other supplies to millions of people.
Yemen's government said on Tuesday that negotiations had failed to force the rebels from Hodeida, and that a grace period for UN-led peace efforts was over. The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015 and has received logistical support from the U.S.
"As we have seen in post-IS (Daesh) Mosul, improving the humanitarian situation significantly, requires reinstating legitimate government institutions and providing continued robust worldwide support".
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Al-Masdr News reported that the vessel has now sunk.
"The liberation of Hudaydah port is a turning point in our struggle to recapture Yemen from the militias that hijacked it to serve foreign agendas", the exiled government said.
Citing sources within the military, Dubai-based Al Arabiya said the battle began early Wednesday morning.
"President Hadi applauded the Saudi-lead Arab Coalition's role and contributions in support of Yemen".
The past few weeks have been filled with frantic last-minute attempts to bring the rebels to the negotiating table - to no avail.
It has argued repeatedly that a Hudaydah offensive can be mounted quickly and effectively, leaving the port functioning at a higher capacity.
A major battle in Hudaydah has potentially grave implications for the already-dire humanitarian situation in Yemen. Reporting from the city a year ago, I saw children who were severely undeveloped, their ribs protruding. Aid agencies urged President Emmanuel Macron to cancel a planned Paris conference on Yemen co-chaired with Saudi Arabia.
The deaths are the first casualties to be confirmed by coalition forces since launching the assault against Hodeida early Wednesday. The UN's figures do not include those who have died of disease and malnutrition.
The conflict has left almost 10,000 people dead in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country. It has created the world's largest food emergency and led to a cholera outbreak that is thought to have killed 2,290 people.
The United States has encouraged a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the conflict, and has sought to ensure Yemenis retain access to humanitarian aid.
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