Sunday, 23 September, 2018

United Nations shuttle diplomacy aims to avert assault on vital Yemen port

The UN chief said that Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths was shuttling between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi The UN chief said that Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths was shuttling between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi
Ellis Copeland | 14 June, 2018, 10:40

The Red Sea port is a lifeline for eight million Yemenis, handling most of the country's commercial imports and aid supplies.

With the failure of diplomatic efforts, the clock is now ticking to the launch of a military offensive to liberate the port city.

Maintaining open corridors for the aid and avoiding a humanitarian crisis in a city inhabited by half a million people is the priority for Washington, he said.

The Saudis and UAE believe that seizing Hodeidah will put both military and economic pressure on the Houthis to reenter peace talks, as well as reduce the militants' ability to attack Saudi Arabia.

Previous UN efforts have failed to end the war.

Eleven humanitarian aid agencies, including Oxfam and Save the Children, separately urged British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to threaten to cut off British support to the coalition if it attacks Hodeida. Malnutrition, cholera and other diseases have killed or sickened thousands of civilians over the years.

Malki also denied that the coalition targeted any medical facility affiliated with Doctors Without Borders in Yemen on Monday. In fact the MSF has issued a clarification and apologized, he said.

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The war has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced three million and unleashed the world's most urgent humanitarian crisis in the impoverished Arab state which is struggling with a starvation and cholera epidemic, according to the United Nations.

An NRC guesthouse in Sana'a was damaged on June 5 by a coalition airstrike, the organization said last week.

The Iran-backed rebels have maintained control of the city since 2015, and have not only used its port to smuggle weapons into Yemen but also to profit from illegally sold humanitarian aid.

A broader United Nations peace plan calls on the Houthis to give up their missiles in return for an end to a coalition bombing campaign and a transitional governance deal, according to a draft document and sources.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there Griffiths was in "intense negotiations" about Hodeidah, AFP reported.

Griffiths is shuttling between the Yemeni capital, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to find "a way to avoid the military confrontation in Hodeidah", Guterres said at a briefing Monday.

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