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Saudi-led Coalition Air Raids on Yemen's Hodeida Continued for 3-Days

Published July 31st, 2018 - 09:01 GMT
Yemenis gather amidst the rubble at a detention centre hit by Saudi-led coalition air strikes in al-Zaidia district of the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah. (AFP/ Photo)
Yemenis gather amidst the rubble at a detention centre hit by Saudi-led coalition air strikes in al-Zaidia district of the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah. (AFP/ Photo)

Saudi-led coalition air raids struck Yemen's Red Sea province of Hodeida for three days, damaging a water plant and placing civilians at "extreme risk", the United Nations said on Sunday.

"On 26, 27 and 28 July, airstrikes occurred near a reproductive health centre and public laboratory in Hodeida and hit and damaged a sanitation facility in Zabid and a water station, which supplies the majority of the water to Hodeida City," the office of the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen said in a statement.  

"These airstrikes are putting innocent civilians at extreme risk," the statement said. 

The UN office said that "damage to sanitation, water and health facilities jeopardises everything we are trying to do" and warned "we could be one airstrike away from an unstoppable epidemic".

The strikes comes less than one month after the UAE, part of a Saudi-led coalition backing the Yemeni government, said it had suspended an offensive to take the port city to give UN mediation efforts a chance.  

Meanwhile, fighting between Yemeni pro-government forces and Houthi rebels along the country's west coast has left dozens dead in recent days, officials and witnesses reported on Sunday.

Casualties were inflicted on both sides, the sources said, as part of the ongoing battle for control of the rebel-held district of Zabid in the port province of Hodeida.

The Red Sea port has been controlled by Houthi rebels since 2014, when they drove the government out of the capital Sanaa and much of the country.

Earlier this year, the coalition imposed a near-total blockade on the port alleging it was being used as a conduit for arms smuggling to the rebels by its regional arch rival Iran.

The UN envoy to Yemen has reportedly been pushing for a deal to end the violence in which the rebels cede control of the port to a UN-supervised committee. 

The UAE has rejected the Houthi's offer, demanding an unconditional withdrawal from the port and city. 

Yemeni military sources contacted by AFPconfirmed that air raids had resumed after the coalition said a Saudi oil tanker in the Red Sea was attacked on Wednesday. 

On 13 June, Saudi Arabia and its allies in a pro-government coalition launched a major offensive to retake Hodeida, 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. 

Water and sewerage pipes have been damaged in shelling and bombing, making the city the ideal setting for a fresh outbreak of cholera, Save the Children warned earlier this week.

"Cholera could spread like wildfire in Yemen, potentially infecting thousands of children and completely overwhelming an already crippled health system," said Save the Children International's CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who recently returned from Yemen.

"Many hospitals have been reduced to rubble, and those that are still standing are barely functioning. Doctors have not been paid, pharmacies are understocked, and power cuts happen constantly."

"Food and aid have been used as weapons of war and children are paying the price. They are severely malnourished and don't have access to basic supplies like food, clean drinking water and medicine," she added. 

"This leaves them extremely vulnerable to diseases like cholera, which many are too weak to fight off. If people are forced to flee fighting on top of this, many children just won't stand a chance."

More than 10,000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led coalition intervened on behalf of the internationally-recognised government of Yemen in March 2015.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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