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UN Envoy in Yemen for Crisis Talks Over Hodaida

UN Envoy in Yemen for Crisis Talks Over HodaidaUN Envoy in Yemen for Crisis Talks Over Hodaida

The UN envoy for Yemen has arrived in Sanaa for crisis talks on the port city of Hodaida amid growing fears that a Saudi and Emirati-led coalition attack on the port city will exacerbate a humanitarian crisis.

Martin Griffiths did not make any statement as he landed in the Yemeni capital on Saturday, Al Jazeera reported.

He is expected to propose to Houthi leaders that they halt fighting and cede control of Hodeida’s vital port—responsible for more than 70% of Yemeni imports—to a UN-supervised committee.

Griffiths’ arrival came as fighting intensified around Hodeida’s airport amid conflicting claims over its fate.

In a post on Twitter Saturday, an account associated with the Saudi-aligned forces said the airport had been “freed from the grip of the Houthi militia” and that de-mining operations were ongoing.

But later on Saturday, Houthi-linked civil aviation authorities denied the fighters had lost control over the airport.

The Houthis’ official news agency SABA quoted Mohammed al-Sharif, deputy head of civil aviation, as saying that images circulated online about the airport were taken in 2016 and that a fence shown as the airport fence was in fact situated on a piece of land belonging to a lawmaker.

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam also said Saudi-led forces had not entered the airport and warned the assault on the city would undermine chances for a peaceful settlement.

“A battle of attrition awaits the Saudi alliance which it cannot withstand. The Saudi coalition will not win the battle in Hodaida,” he told Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV.

Saudi and Emirati-backed forces began an offensive to capture Hodaida on Wednesday, since when scores of combatants have been killed, according to medical and military sources

Houthi forces captured the city of about 600,000 people in late 2014.

  Aid Lifeline

The recent escalation in fighting has raised fears the clashes could ignite a humanitarian catastrophe in a country already teetering on the brink of famine.

More than 22 million people in Yemen are in need of aid, including 8.4 million who are at risk of starvation, according to the UN, which considers Yemen to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The UN Security Council has expressed its “deep concern” over the fighting and UN officials have warned of a risk of famine.

“The Yemeni port [of Hodaida] is a lifeline for the delivery of aid and the coalition’s air attacks can kill many more people over time through famine and hunger when damaging such civilian infrastructure,” Adana Dieng, UN special adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, said in a statement.

 

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