Calls for Ceasefire in Yemen as Hodeida Offensive Escalates

Published August 2nd, 2018 - 06:53 GMT
Yemeni pro-government forces gather at the south of Hodeida airport, in Yemen's Hodeida province. (AFP Photo)
Yemeni pro-government forces gather at the south of Hodeida airport, in Yemen's Hodeida province. (AFP Photo)

An immediate ceasefire in Yemen is needed amid a fresh wave of violence in Hodeida putting thousands of lives at risk, Save the Children warned on Thursday.

On 13 June, Saudi Arabia and its allies in a pro-government coalition launched a major offensive to retake the Houthi rebel-held port city, through which 70 percent of Yemen's food imports flow. 

The fighting around Hodeida has raised UN fears of a new humanitarian catastrophe in a country already standing at the brink of famine and gripped by a deadly cholera epidemic. 

Despite the coalition on 1 July pausing the offensive in what coalition partner the UAE described as a bid to give United Nations-led peace efforts a chance, recent air raids have struck the city, damaging a water plant and placing civilians at "extreme risk", according to the UN.

Save the Children on Thursday described the city as a "ghost town".

It also found in a survey that the majority (51 percent) of the British public wanted the government to call for a ceasefire. 

The UK is a major arms exporter to the Saudi-led coalition. When asked whether Britain should continue to supply weapons to the coalition, more than half of respondents to the YouGov survey said the Government should either completely suspend (47 percent) or reduce (9 percent) arms sales to any party involved in the conflict.

Save the Children's Yemen Country Director, Tamer Kirolos, 
said of Hodeida: "Aid agencies are doing what they can to keep people alive but ultimately, our efforts are just a sticking plaster on a gaping wound.

"We must see an immediate ceasefire to avoid any more civilian casualties and we call on all parties to continue to negotiate with the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in good faith, to achieve a workable peace deal that will bring an end to this brutal war and to the suffering of 22 million people in Yemen."

 
 
Even before the latest increase in violence, an average of 6,238 people – half of whom are children – were fleeing Hodeidah Governorate every single day.
 
In little more than 50 days (from 1 June to 24 July) the constant threat of bombing, shelling, starvation and a lack of basic services displaced a total of 330,610 people from Hodeidah Governorate according to the United Nations.
 
Even if they make it out, the villages and communities where they escape to are overwhelmed and cannot cope with the influx of people or provide them with essential services, Save the Children said. 

UNICEF on Wednesday warned Yemen is at risk of another cholera outbreak after airstrikes damaged a sanitation facility and a station that supplies most of Hodeida's water.

A previous cholera outbreak, which began in October 2016 and escalated in April 2017, has killed more than 2,000 people and led to up to 1 million suspected cases in the country, according to the Red Cross.
 
This article has been adapted from its original source.

Copyright @ 2019 The New Arab.

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