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Aid agencies warn against assault on Yemen port city

Hodieda is the next target of the UAE-Yemeni military force [AFP]

Date of publication: 2 June, 2018

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Aid agencies have said a planned UAE-backed offensive on the port city of Hodeidah could lead to disaster in Yemen.
Aid agencies have warned a planned offensive on the Yemeni port city of Hodeida could be disastrous for the country, as fighting intensifies along the coast.

Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said that the planned UAE-backed government assault on Hodieda would cut critically-needed aid to Yemen.

"The coalition ground forces are now at the doorstep of this heavily-fortified, heavily-mined port city. Thousands of civilians are fleeing from the outskirts of Hodeida which is now a battle zone," Egeland told Reuters.

"We cannot have war in Hodeida, it would be like war in Rotterdam or Antwerp, these are comparable cities in Europe."

Hodieda has been a key target of the Gulf-backed Yemeni government, which has made its way slowly up the coast towards the rebel-held city.

Hodeida is one of the key entry points for aid to Yemen, despite a Saudi-led on-off blockade of the Houthi-held port.

Yemeni officials told AP that a Houthi assault on el-Faza on Friday killed 18 pro-government forces and wounded 30 more, while ten rebels were killed.

Coalition forces are around 12 milies from Hodieda and announced earlier this week that they had surrounded the port and were preparing for an assault.

Robert Mardini, Middle East regional director for the International Committee of the Red Cross, also warned of the impending dangers of an offensive.

"Hodeidah, the so-called big battle, has been looming now for 18 months with ups and downs," he told Reuters.

"It's a densely-populated area where any military scenario will risk coming at a huge human cost."  

Aid agencies have frequently warned that Yemen is on the brink of famine, while disease has spread through the country.

More than 10,000 people have been killed since a Saudi-led coalition entered the war in 2015 backing the Yemeni government in is fight back against the Houthi rebels who seized control of much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

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