Published: Sat, June 23, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Yemen: 26000 Flee, UN Pleads For Safe Aid Passage

Yemen: 26000 Flee, UN Pleads For Safe Aid Passage

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged a swift assault to avoid disrupting aid deliveries to Yemen through the port.

The Arab states say their aim is to seize the airport and port and to avoid street fights in the city centre.

Military sources also reported 33 Huthis and 19 soldiers killed in Tuesday's battle, bringing the death toll in Hodeida this week to 216 fighters. He said four of the dead were women.

Emirati troops, along with irregular and loyalist forces in Yemen, have been fighting against Shiite rebels known as Houthis for Hodeida since Wednesday.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, told reporters that about 5,200 families, or around 26,000 people, have fled the fighting and sought safety within their own districts or in other areas in Hudaydah governorate.

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The Norweigan Refugee Council said on Monday that Houthi fighters were closing all main roads to the city and had completely stopped travel on the main road linking to the capital Sana'a.

The Saudi-led coalition and its mercenaries began a massive operation on Wednesday to bring Yemen's port city under their control.

Many of them, like Ahmed, had been banking on United Nations efforts to take control of the port, through which almost three quarters of Yemen's imports - including much-needed aid - flow.

Arab coalition troops stormed the airport in Yemen's main port Hodeidah on Tuesday and captured large areas of the compound in battles with Iran-aligned Houthis, a Yemeni military source, the UAE news agency and local residents said.

The battle for Hodeida has sparked fears of a new escalation of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which is already teetering on the brink of starvation.

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According to the United Nations, which has limited access to Yemen, hundreds of thousands of people have fled fighting and as many as 8 million people were on the brink of starvation.

Hodeidah's port is the conduit through which as much as 80 percent of Yemen's food, medical and commercial supplies enters the country.

"Coalition's aid shipments have frequently been confiscated by militias and found their way to the black market but this has not derailed the coalition commitment to alleviate the humanitarian crisis", he said. Around two-thirds of the country's population of 27 million relies on aid. While the alliance has been able to recover areas in southern Yemen, the Houthis still control Sana'a and territories in the north, and frequently fire ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia, which has accused Iran of supplying such weapons.

The Houthis, meanwhile, have laid land mines, killing and wounding civilians.

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