UN agencies are extremely worried that the upsurge in fighting in Yemen’s Hodeida Governorate could result in the closure of the port. This, they warn would be catastrophic for millions of starving people.
More than three years of war has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine, with more than eight million extremely hungry people totally dependent on international aid for their survival.
Most of the food and other essential humanitarian aid arrives in Yemen through the Port of Hodeida. For now, the port is open. But, World Food Program spokeswoman, Bettina Luescher tells VOA heavy fighting around this strategic city is putting the delivery of crucial aid at risk.
“We are continuing to provide emergency rations to the people fleeing the violence and we are making sure that wheat and other food stocks are available.” Luescher said. “We are concerned that the upsurge in the fighting in Hodeida could lead to 1.1 million people being either displaced or trapped within Hodeida. That is the concern that we have.”
The United Nations reports an estimated 50,000 Yemenis have been newly displaced since fighting broke out in Hodeida on June 12. It calls Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Since the Saudi-led coalition began bombing rebel Houthis in support of the government in March 2015, more than 10,000 people—most civilians– reportedly have died and more than two million people displaced.
UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffith is in negotiation with the warring parties to prevent an all-out attack on the city and port of Hodeida. He reportedly has presented a proposal that would see the UN playing a role in keeping the peace in the city and port.