Aid worries rise as fighting edges closer to Yemen port

Yemeni pro-government forces advancing towards the port city of Hodeida, controlled by Houthi rebels, on Tuesday.
Yemeni pro-government forces advancing towards the port city of Hodeida, controlled by Houthi rebels, on Tuesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ADEN • Yemeni pro-government forces advanced closer to rebel-held Hodeida overnight, a military source said yesterday, raising fears over humanitarian aid deliveries through the lifeline port city.

Concern was also growing for civilians in Hodeida, as the fighting drew near and after reports that snipers had positioned themselves on a hospital rooftop.

Plumes of smoke were seen on Tuesday as heavily armed pro-government forces moved towards the Red Sea port.

A pro-government military source yesterday said loyalists backed by a Saudi-led coalition made "limited advances" overnight towards Hodeida and its port, through which more than 70 per cent of the impoverished country's imports pass.

The coalition, an alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, had sent fighter jets and Apache helicopters to cover Yemeni troops fighting Houthi rebels on the ground, the source said.

A barrage of 100 air strikes were fired at the weekend around Hodeida, the Save the Children aid group said, citing its staff in the city of 600,000 residents.

In the past 24 hours, fighting claimed the lives of 27 rebels and 12 pro-government fighters on the outskirts of Hodeida, a medical source told Agence France-Presse yesterday.

Nearly 200 combatants have been killed in the past week, according to military sources.

The United Nations children's fund, Unicef, yesterday voiced concern that an escalation in fighting would jeopardise humanitarian efforts crucial for the survival of millions across the war-torn country.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2018, with the headline 'Aid worries rise as fighting edges closer to Yemen port'. Print Edition | Subscribe