UN warns of devastating consequences for 250,000 Hudaida residents as Saudi-led coalition targets Houthi rebels in port city.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have launched an assault on Yemen’s port city of Hudaida, in the biggest battle of a three-year war between a Saudi-backed coalition and Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels.
The air strikes on Wednesday morning targeting Houthi positions are supported by ground operations by Yemeni troops south of the Red Sea port, the internationally recognised Yemeni government-in-exile said in a statement.
The exiled government “has exhausted all peaceful and political means to remove the Houthi militia from the port of Hudaida”, it said in a statement.
he exiled government “has exhausted all peaceful and political means to remove the Houthi militia from the port of Hudaida”, it said in a statement.
“The liberation of the port is the start of the fall of the Houthi militia and will secure marine shipping in Bab al-Mandab strait and cut off the hands of Iran, which has long-drowned Yemen in weapons that shed precious Yemeni blood.”
The Red Sea port is the only port under Houthi control, situated about 150km southwest of the capital, Sanaa.
According to Dubai-based Al Arabiya, Yemeni troops have gained control of the city’s southern district of Nekheila.
The Hudaida port is crucial for the flow of food supplies into a country that is on the brink of famine.
Jolien Veldwijk, acting director for Care International in Yemen, told Al Jazeera that the port of Hudaida is crucial for aid agencies to be able to do their work.
“More than two-thirds of the people of Yemen count on the food that is imported through the port of Hudaida,” Veldwijk said.
“Even before the offensive on Hudaida started, already 8 million Yemenis were at risk of famine and we really expect this number to increase rapidly, even if the port is closed for one day.”
“There are other ways [to get food imports into the country] but those ports don’t have the size to handle the size of imports needed to feed the people of Yemen … They’re alot smaller and they can only maybe handle 30 percent of what is needed.”
Riyadh and Abu Dhabi maintain that the port is being used to smuggle weapons.
The assault comes following the expiry of a deadline set by the UAE for the Houthis, who hold Sanaa, to hand over the port that has been under their control for years.
UNSC to hold emergency session amid an assault on Yemen’s Hudaida
The closed meeting requested by the UK comes as residents flee outskirts of city fearing incoming air strikes.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has called for an emergency session following the launch of an assault on the Yemeni port city of Hudaida by forces backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The closed meeting, requested by the United Kingdom, will take place on Thursday afternoon. It will be the second time the Council convenes this week over the situation in Yemen, which aid groups warn stares at an imminent humanitarian crisis.
‘Hudaida will cost so many civilian lives but we have no choice’!! , Saudi-backed forces on the ground say they cannot guarantee what would happen to the trapped civilians.
Residents of Hudaida are worried about the coming days, as the battle has moved from the border of the city to inside the province, with pro-Hadi forces now only about 25 kilometres away.
Allaa Taha, 35, a resident of Hudaida who works in a clothing shop, stated that he’s lost the joys that come with celebrating Eid. The Saudi-led coalition’s assault is likely to get more intense in the coming days, even ruining the Eid holiday.
“During this past month, the battles have moved towards Hudaida and the pro-Hadi forces could advance more than 70 km towards Hudaida city,” Taha said, speaking to TRT World.
“We feel the forces can arrive in the city in the coming days. Instead of preparing for the Eid, residents of Hudaida are preparing themselves to flee the city as soon as the battle arrives.”
These are the circumstances a majority of the residents of Hudaida find themselves in.
Some international organisations have warned that the renewed round of fighting would have catastrophic consequences, but the Saudi-led coalition paid no heed and threatened to recapture Hudaida in the coming days if they do not reach a deal with the Houthi rebels.