Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Yemen government forces enter Hodeida airport: UAE

Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash speaks during a press conference in Dubai Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash speaks during a press conference in Dubai
Jeannette Daniel | 20 June, 2018, 08:56

An Aramco official said the company's facilities were safe and operating normally.

Following reports of an assault by the Saudi-led military coalition on the Yemeni port city of Hodeida, the group called on Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu to explain the presence of Malaysian troops in Riyadh and their involvement in the Yemen war.

Saudi state TV had earlier said that Saudi air defenses had intercepted a Houthi missile launched on the city of Khamis Mushait, which is also in Asir.

Troops from the UAE and neighbouring Saudi Arabia are the mainstay of an Arab coalition that has been fighting the Houthi rebels in support of the Yemeni government since 2015.

"With the participation and support of the Emirati armed forces, the joint Yemeni resistance (army) entered Hodeida airport", the UAE state news agency WAM tweeted.

Hodeida's residents are now bracing for what they fear will be devastating street fighting, as tanks and buses carrying uniformed troops roll through the empty streets of the once-bustling city. "The fighting and the sounds of explosions are everywhere and we are stuck in our house in the district of Rabsa with no running water", Iman, a 37-year-old mother of two, said tearfully.

He added that Hodeidah can breathe "a sigh of relief" after the liberation of its airport which signifies "the end of suffering and elimination of the worst era lived under the rule of the Houthi dynasty which deprived residents of their most basic rights".

"My children are terrified".

Mohamed Sharaf, 44, a civil servant, told Reuters he had sent his entire family to Sanaa, the inland capital, several days ago and he was getting ready to leave himself. "There is death and destruction everywhere in this city".

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Around 22 million people are now dependent on aid in what was already the Arab world's poorest country.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande recently said "as many as 250,000 people may lose everything -even their lives", if there is a military attack on Hudaydah.

Displaced Yemenis from Hodieda stand outside their shelter at a make-shift camp for displaced people in the northern district of Yemen's Hajjah province on 19 June, 2018.

Hodeidah port remained open on Tuesday with the UN World Food Programme hastening to unload three ships containing enough food for six million people for one month, WFP spokesperson Bettina Luescher.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Monday the coalition was taking a measured approach to minimise risks to civilians, and allowing the Houthis an escape route inland to their bastion in Sanaa. But the Houthis were well dug into Hodeidah as it constitutes the key supply line to territory they control including Sanaa.

United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths has been holding talks in the rebel-held capital Sanaa since Saturday to seek concessions from Huthi leaders that might avoid all-out fighting in the streets of Hodeida.

A member of the Houthi leadership, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, has denied any talks with the United Nations on handing over the port city "because this request is unrealistic".

Bukhaiti told Reuters by telephone that Griffiths instead had discussed "a comprehensive political solution that addresses...all fronts and not only Hodeidah". They say they reflect a popular revolt against state corruption and are protecting the Yemen from foreign invasion.

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