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United Nations seeks urgent ceasefire to stop UAE assault on Yemeni port

12 June, 2018, 09:00 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • Fishermen at a village where human traffickers operate

"We urge you to use all available means to avert a catastrophic military assault on Yemen's major port city of Hodeida by the Saudi-led coalition, and to present Congress with immediate clarification regarding the full scope of U.S. military involvement in that conflict", reads the letter spearheaded by Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., which has been signed by seven members of Congress.

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.

"We are doing everything we can through diplomatic channels to discourage an assault on Hodeidah".

The following year, Saudi Arabia, together with several other Arab nations, launched a military campaign in support of Yemen's internationally recognised government aiming to roll back advances made by Houthi rebels after they overran much of the country in 2014.

Britain requested the urgent talks after telling aid agencies on the ground that it had received a warning from the United Arab Emirates that an attack was imminent.

The Western diplomat said there were "a couple of last ditch attempts" to try to see whether there were any options to de-escalate, including a plan to "see some sort of a temporary ceasefire", but that would involve the Houthis putting their weapons down or potentially even moving out of the port.

United Nations humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told reporters today that 70 percent of Yemen's imported food, fuel, and medicines come through Hodeidah.

"We are, at the present moment, in intense consultation", Guterres told reporters on Monday.

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"We expect all parties to honor their commitments to work with the UN Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Yemen on this issue, support a political process to resolve this conflict, ensure humanitarian access to the Yemeni people, and map a stable political future for Yemen".

United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock 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. "The US has begged Saudi/UAE coalition not to attack the humanitarian aid port of Hudaydah".

Saudi and UAE-backed Yemeni government forces have surrounded the key port of Hodieda in recent weeks, putting pressure on the Houthi defenders.

The United Nations relocated members of its global staff from Hodeidah on Monday.

"If an attack does take place, casualties on all sides will be high with a likely catastrophic impact on the civilian population", they wrote.

The three-year conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced more than 3 million.

A Saudi-led coalition has been at war with Yemen's Shi'ite Houthi rebels since March 2015.

The conflict has left almost 10,000 people dead in Yemen, already the Arab world's poorest country.

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