Arab coalition fighting Houthi rebels will give aid to Yemeni civilians: UAE Ambassador

A screengrab from a video taken on June 15, 2018, shows Yemeni pro-government forces firing a heavy machine gun at the south of Hodeida airport. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Members of the Arab coalition fighting Yemeni rebels in the key port city of Hodeida will be giving out aid to Yemeni civilians.

The month-long humanitarian assistance plan will transport food to 1.6 million individuals, and benefit 235,000 families including almost a million children, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to Singapore Mohammad Omar Abdullah Belfaqeeh told reporters on Monday (June 18).

He was giving an update on the coalition's efforts, which has been criticised for civilian casualties, to Singapore media at a press conference at the Shangri-La Hotel.

The Saudi-led coalition of Arab states launched the attack on Hodeida last Wednesday in the largest battle of the Yemen war.

The ongoing Yemeni war has triggered what the United Nations calls the world's largest single humanitarian crisis, with 2.2 million in need of aid and 8.4 million in danger of starvation.

Arab diplomats have said they have plans to prevent the humanitarian crisis from worsening.

Dr Mohammad Omar said: "This operation is carefully taking steps to make sure that the people in Hodeida do not suffer more.

"The operation is for them, to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and to allow the legitimate Yemeni government to take control of the port."

The UAE will provide eight ships and seven aircraft and use another 100 local Yemeni trucks to deliver the food aid to civilians, he said. They will be giving out about 380,000 baskets of food comprising wheat, rice and flour.

More than 70 per cent of Yemen's imports flow through Hodeida, and the Arab coalition has accused Yemeni rebels of confiscating aid shipments, which have found their way to the black market.

The coalition of Sunni Muslim Arab states sees Yemen's Houthi rebels, who are backed by Shi'ite Iran, as part of Iran's expansionist efforts in the region. But the Houthis say they took power in a popular revolt.

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