Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

UN shuttle diplomacy aims to avert assault on vital Yemen port

UN shuttle diplomacy aims to avert assault on vital Yemen port

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other allies intervened in Yemen in 2015 to push back the rebels and restore the internationally-recognized government to power after the Houthis ousted it from swathes of the country including the capital Sanaa.

During his meeting with Yemen's new Foreign Minister Khaled Alyemany, Guterres stressed that "everyone should redouble efforts to find a political solution and avoid a fierce, bloody battle for Hodeida", UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Griffiths, who briefed the council by video conference from Amman, has revived a year-old plan to turn over Hodeida port to a neutral party, diplomats said.

The ICRC has operated in Yemen since 1962 but said its current activities "have been blocked, threatened and directly targeted in recent weeks, and we see a vigorous attempt to instrumentalize our organization as a pawn in the conflict".

The city is controlled by Houthi rebels fighting a Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which believes the port has been key to the rebels smuggling in arms.

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.

If the Saudi-led coalition capture Hudeida, it would effectively be in control of Yemen's most vital lifeline and the main gateway for imports of relief supplies and commercial goods - Hudeida is the point of entry for some 70 percent of Yemen's imports.

UN shuttle diplomacy aims to avert assault on vital Yemen port

Moreover, an attack would sink the negotiations now being brokered by the new, US-supported UN Special Envoy to Yemen.

Griffiths previously said an attack on Hodeidah would "take peace off the table in a single stroke".

"For now yes we can [assist people]", Mohamed Abdi, NRC country director for Yemen, told The Defense Post. "We have dozens of United Nations staff still in Hudeidah", Lowcock said.

Almost 10,000 people have been killed since the alliance launched its intervention in Yemen in March 2015, contributing to what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

When asked about the three-day deadline to NGOs, Saudi-led coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki said at a news conference in Riyadh: "We are working through open and continuous channels with the United Nations envoy to give a chance for a political solution".

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". The United Nations says that Yemen is now the world's worst humanitarian crisis and that 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid.

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