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UN Yemen Envoy Arrives in Sanaa as Saudi-UAE Offensive Intensifies

UN Yemen Envoy Arrives in Sanaa as Saudi-UAE Offensive IntensifiesUN Yemen Envoy Arrives in Sanaa as Saudi-UAE Offensive Intensifies

The United Nations’ special envoy to war-ravaged Yemen has arrived in Sanaa to meet Houthi leaders, just as a Saudi-UAE-backed government offensive to retake the strategic western port city of Hodaida intensifies.

Martin Griffiths’ visit to the capital on Sunday came after his push last week for peace talks fell apart before they could officially begin, Al Jazeera reported.

That meeting, which would have been the first in nearly two years, was scheduled to take place in the Swiss city of Geneva on September 6. The Houthi delegation, however, did not show up, accusing the UN of failing to guarantee their safe return to Sanaa and secure the evacuation of wounded rebels to Oman.

Shortly after the talks’ collapse, the Saudi-UAE-backed forces intensified their push to capture Houthi-held Hodaida and its port, which is considered the lifeline of Yemen.

The offensive was first launched in June but was briefly halted in the lead-up to the Geneva initiative.

On Sunday, medical and hospital sources told AFP news agency that at least 32 Houthi fighters had been killed in fierce fighting and air attacks around Hodaida.

The Houthis also said that a Saudi-UAE air raid struck a radio station in the city’s al-Marawa district, killing three security guards and one member of staff.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from nearby Djibouti, said the Saudi-UAE coalition’s offensive on the city appeared to be “at its most intense” point.

“There are also many concerns rising for the level of malnutrition across the country, which is getting to a critical level,” he added.

The UN has warned that continued conflict in Hodaida, the entry point for the bulk of Yemen’s commercial imports and aid supplies, could trigger a famine.

An estimated 8.4 million people are at risk of starvation in Yemen, according to the UN.

The country’s three-year war has ensnared millions in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22 million in dire need of assistance. The UN says at least 10,000 people have been killed in the war, but the death toll has not been updated in years and is certain to be far higher.

With logistical support from the United States, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have carried out attacks in Yemen since March 2015, in an attempt to reinstate the government of fugitive president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

 

 

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