by The Dawn News/ June 18, 2018
With more than 70 per cent of the humanitarian assistance flowing into Yemen from the port of Hodeidah, the raging fighting and bombing by international coalition in the area has pushed the country into deep abyss. The Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE)-led coalition, which is backed by the United States, United Kingdom (UK) and France on Friday sieged the Hodeidah airport in the sweeping offensive on a key Red Sea port city. According to the United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), the relentless coalition airstrikes in various locations in Al Hudaydah city including the University and in Ad Durayhimi district have forced thousands of civilians to flee the area.
Speaking about the sustained Saudi and UAE bombing campaign, Manal Qaed, an independent journalist told Al Jazeera on Sunday, “The planes are low in the sky; we hear every explosion on the edges of the city. Everyone is worried. We just don’t know what is going to happen.”
Humanitarian organisations argue that this new phase of offensive by Saudi-led forces in the Yemen war, which has entered into its fourth year will devastate the country. The port city of Hodeida is a vital lifeline for Yemen, and Houthi rebel-held regions will be choked if the key port city falls. Political observers note that the coalition forces are attempting to siege the city in an attempt to force Houthis to surrender, by cutting the supply line for its forces and civilian population.
The war, which has already claimed more than 10,000 Yemenis, began in 2015 after Saudi Arabia and UAE launched military offensive to reinstate the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was ousted by Shia majority Houthi rebels. The war witnessed a massive bombing campaign by the international coalition aircrafts that crippled the country’s vital infrastructures like healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene system. The 2016 Cholera outbreak, the largest in the history, led to death of 2,000 people and affected more than one million people.
A statement by humanitarian organisations had noted that there are over 20 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance; seven million of them, are facing famine-like conditions and rely completely on food aid to survive. More than 2.2 million children are malnourished, and out of which 3,85,000 children suffer from severe malnutrition requiring life-saving therapeutic intervention.
The actions of the international coalition had been condemned numerous times as war crimes, and its Western backers had been urged to withdraw support to this deadly war. A French newspaper report claimed that France has deployed its special forces in battle in Hodeida alongside UAE troops to fight the Houthi rebels.
Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a 30-year veteran of the CIA, had earlier noted: “If the United States and the United Kingdom, tonight, told King Salman [of Saudi Arabia], ‘This war has to end,’ it would end tomorrow. The Royal Saudi Air Force cannot operate without American and British support.”
As the bombing rages and two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27 million face the threat of being cut off from the Hodeida port, the United Nations has warned that 250,00 people could die as a result of the siege.