Ignoring international aid groups’ warnings that an attack on the Yemeni city of Hodeida, which is held by Houthi rebels, could exacerbate hunger in an impoverished and war-torn nation already on the brink of famine, Saudi-led US-backed coalition forces continued a sweeping assault on the Red Sea port city Saturday, reportedly seizing control of an airport.
Since the fighting started earlier this week, thousands of Hodeida’s 600,000 civilians have evacuated and hundreds of people have been killed. The port city is the main conduit through which about 70 percent of international aid reaches Yemenis, many of whom are battling starvation and outbreaks of infectious diseases such as cholera.
The Norwegian Refugee Council’s office in Yemen told Reuters that “humanitarian agencies cannot currently access areas south of the city where people are most likely to have been injured, affected, and displaced, leaving us without a clear picture of needs.”
“The lack of humanitarian assistance, following suspension of aid programs and with limited NGO staff on the ground while a military offensive is ongoing, will have severe consequences on a region already facing restrictions on the import and internal transportation of vital supplies, including medicines, food, and fuel,” Frederic Pelat, head of Médecins Sans Frontières’ mission in Yemen, warned Thursday. “Yemenis living in the northern parts of the country depend on vital supplies that pass through Hodeida’s port.”
The port of #Hodeida is an essential lifeline for the country: more than 70% of all food, essential medicines and healthcare supplies are brought in through this port. #Yemen@DrTedros pic.twitter.com/lv1HENfWmf
— WHO Yemen (@WHOYemen) June 16, 2018
Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy to Yemen, arrived in the Houthi-held capital Sana’a on Saturday after the US and UK blocked a UN Security Council resolution that would have called on coalition forces—which are being led…