UAE supports 'early convening' of UN Yemen talks

15 November, 2018, 17:03 | Author: Myra Gill
  • UN chief: Destroying Yemen's Hodeida port would be 'catastrophic'

A push by Yemeni loyalists to recapture insurgent-held Hodeida has stalled, according to pro-government officials Wednesday, as local sources said rebels had planted landmines around the city's key port.

After almost four years of conflict in Yemen, home to what the UN calls the world s worst humanitarian catastrophe, the United States and Britain are now pressing Saudi Arabia and its allies to end the war against the Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

The move comes ahead of another proposed round of peace talks in Sweden later this month, Hunt's office said.

Aid groups fear for the safety of hundreds of thousands of people living in Hodeida - and for millions of others dependent on its port for what little food and humanitarian aid trickle into impoverished, blockaded Yemen.

He said there was "an opportunity to make the direct parties in the conflict - the Houthis, the government, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia - understand that this is ultimately a war that no one is winning".

Both the Huthis and Saudi-led government camp reported outbreaks of violence elsewhere in Yemen late Tuesday.

The rebels blamed the raids on the Saudi-led coalition, which said it was investigating the report.

However, coalition spokesman, Colonel Turki al-Malki, said in Riyadh: "The operation is still ongoing".

New well-trained army battalions arrived in Hodeidah and will join the next anti-Houthi military assault in order to liberate the strategic Red Sea port city, the commander said.

The deputy director of the port, Yehya Charafeddine, told AFP on Tuesday that the port's main entrance "had been the target of air raids [.] but the port is functioning normally". He said three guards had been wounded. "We heard a few gunshots here and there at night, but it seems to be calm this morning", a resident told by telephone, requesting anonymity.

The Houthis accused the coalition, via their al-Massirah TV channel, of conducting two air strikes that targeted the eastern entrance to the port.

A Hodeida resident reported an ebb in fighting around the city by Monday evening, but UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned of a possible "catastrophic situation" if the port is destroyed.

United Nations humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock echoed Griffiths' call on all parties to show restraint and reiterated the U.N.'s readiness "to play an enhanced role in ensuring the appropriate use of key facilities, especially around Hodeida".

The coalition has come under intense worldwide pressure to end the conflict, particularly following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom's rulers, in his country's consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis announced last Friday that Washington would support the Saudi decision to use the Saudi-led coalition's own capabilities to conduct inflight refueling missions in Yemen, indicating that the U.S. side would stop refueling the coalition aircraft.



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