Violence calms in Yemen's Hodeida amid diplomatic pressure

Posted November 17, 2018

In recent days, the military coalition led by the Saudi regime and militia groups loyal to Hadi have intensified their attacks on Hudaydah, which is seen as the main entry point for food imports and aid relief needed by millions in the war-torn country.

The destruction of the port of Hodeida, a vital lifeline for millions of starving civilians in Yemen, would "create a catastrophic situation", Antonio Guterres told French radio station France Inter.

The battles for Hodeidah have raged for weeks around the port city, but the fighting now turned into street-to-street battle inside the populated city, which endangers live of thousands of civilians.

British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt will visit Saudi Arabia on Monday, where he will press king Salman and prince Mohammed to support United Nations efforts to end the conflict, the foreign office said.

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The statement says that "subject to final reassurances, coalition forces will now permit the United Nations to oversee a Houthi medical evacuation including up to 50 wounded fighters to Oman ahead of another proposed round of peace talks in Sweden later this month". Military sources confirmed that the Saudi-led alliance had targeted the rebels with multiple air strikes.

Aid groups fear for the safety of almost 600,000 people living in Hodeidah - and for millions of others dependent on its port for what little food and humanitarian aid trickling into blockaded Yemen.

Three port employees reached by telephone said the rebels had also begun to mine entryways to the port overnight.

Britain is seeking support among regional partners for new action at the UN Security Council for peace talks in Yemen.

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Almost 600 people have been killed since clashes erupted in Hodeida on November 1, ending a temporary suspension in a government offensive to take the city that began in June.

"The Saudi-led coalition (has) agreed to the evacuation of wounded Houthis from Yemen, one of the key stumbling blocks to the UN Geneva talks in September", it added.

The coalition has come under intense worldwide pressure to end the conflict in Yemen, particularly following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Critics of the Saudi campaign have always been questioning USA involvement in the war, in which more than 10,000 people have been killed, over 2 million displaced and has spread starvation in Yemen since it began in 2015.

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The alliance accuses Iran of smuggling arms to the Houthis through Hodeida Port. Tehran denies the charges.