UN scrambles to avert ‘fierce bloody battle’ for Yemen port

  • UN scrambles to avert ‘fierce bloody battle’ for Yemen port

UN scrambles to avert ‘fierce bloody battle’ for Yemen port

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies - who accuse the Houthis of serving as Iranian proxies - launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains. "I hope that it will be possible to avoid a battle for Hudeida", Guterres said.

The offensive also risks plunging the country into further violence as the coalition tries to wrest control of the strategic city from the rebels.

The United Nations fears that a battle in Hodeidah could be devastating for the estimated 600,000 people still living in the city.

The council met behind closed doors to hear United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths report on his diplomatic efforts to keep the rebel-held port of Hodeidah open to shipments of aid and commercial goods.

Guterres said U.N. Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths was shuttling between Sanaa and also the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

A pro-government Yemeni soldier fires a machine-gun on June 7 near the city of al-Jah in Hodeida province, 50 kilometres from the port city of Hodeida, which the Houthi insurgents seized in 2014.

Around 70 per cent of Yemen's imports, including the vast majority of its food, comes through Hodeidah and the port is described as the country's "lifeline".

The following year, UN-sponsored peace talks held in Kuwait failed to produce any tangible breakthroughs. The UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen has warned such an attack would be a "catastrophe".

He cited the possibility that the United States could potentially do more on humanitarian relief, if asked, but said "right now we have not been asked to do more than what we're already doing".

The state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted military coalition spokesman Col.

The UN considers Yemen to be the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22.2 million people in need of assistance.

In his call with Emirati leaders, Pompeo said he "made clear our desire to address their security concerns while preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and life-saving commercial imports".

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, an attack could cost as many as 250,000 people "everything - even their lives", and humanitarian organizations have warned that damage to the port, which accounts for the vast majority of the country's food and fuel imports, could tip Yemen into a long-warned-of starvation.