United Nations in 'intense negotiations' to avert attack on Hudeida

12 June, 2018, 09:02 | Author: Sheila Harris

The UN has warned the Saudi-led coalition that a military attack or siege on the city, long a target in the war, could lead to the displacement of 250,000 people.

If the Saudi-led coalition capture Hudeida, it would effectively be in control of Yemen's most vital lifeline and the main gateway for imports of relief supplies and commercial goods - Hudeida is the point of entry for some 70 percent of Yemen's imports.

Three people have been killed in southern Saudi Arabia, after a suspected Houthi missile fired from Yemen hit the town of Jizan late Saturday, Riyadh has said.

The United States warned Monday that aid must flow through the Yemeni port of Hodeida amid reports that Emirati forces plan to seize it from Huthi rebels.

Urgent British-led efforts at the UN were under way to dissuade the United Arab Emirates and the Saudis from pressing ahead with the attack - or at least to give undertakings that it will not seek to starve Hodeidah into submission.

Last week, Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, warned: "A military attack or siege on Hodeida will impact hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians".

The UN's top envoy for Yemen pushed for all sides to de-escalate the fighting around Hodeida during a visit earlier this month to broker negotiations.

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United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock, who also briefed the council, said an attack on Hodeida would be "catastrophic" and that aid agencies were hoping to "stay and deliver" in Yemen, which the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, acknowledged the "humanitarian crisis" in Yemen and said he had met twice with Griffiths and also spoken to him by phone.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with Yemen's foreign minister at UN headquarters amid warnings that an attack on Al Hodeidah was imminent.

But he urged them to support United Nations peace efforts.

More than 10,000 Yemenis have been killed since the war began, tens of thousands have been wounded, and another two million people have been displaced.

Previous U.N. efforts have failed to end the more than three-year-old conflict which pits the Houthis, who seized the capital Sanaa in 2014, against other Yemeni forces backed by a coalition loyal to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and led by US allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

An alarming 22.2 million people in Yemen - the Arab world's poorest country - need some kind of humanitarian or protection assistance, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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