Friday, October 22, 2021

Yemeni port city awash in violence after Saudi blockade lifted

Written by By Paul Cone and Bethany Brown, CNN

Deadly clashes between the Yemeni government and Shiite Houthi rebels have continued in the strategic port city of Hodeida since last weekend, with at least one civilian killed and 70 wounded as rescuers attempt to evacuate thousands of civilians.

The UN announced last week that it was halting its aid operations in the country, which has been mired in an 18-month-long civil war between a Saudi-led coalition of Arab nations and the Houthi rebels since early 2015.

Since the end of May, aid workers have reported seeing “people falling out of the sky.” One aid worker reported that he “felt very guilty” that a 13-year-old girl was among the casualties.

Yemen’s Hodeida port city is strategically important because it gives the rebels access to its cargo-docking terminal, allowing the rebels to move civilian fuel supplies.

UNICEF said in a statement last month that one of the most vulnerable groups in the city is the injured.

“They have been left without access to safe and adequate medical care, while Houthi forces continue to advance,” the statement said.

Yemen’s ally, Saudi Arabia, suspended all imports to the country on May 31 and announced that fuel and food aid would be redirected to its devastated war-torn neighbor — which receives the bulk of its supplies from the United Arab Emirates.

But with the fighting restarting in Hodeida, around 2,400 trucks have been waiting for days at the border to get into the country, according to the UN.

Yemen has been the site of the largest naval blockade on a country in decades, with ships and commercial cargo restricted to two ports in a Saudi-led coalition enforced since 2015 to prevent the takeover of a once prosperous nation and the delivery of weapons to rebel groups.

Qatar has contributed planes to the Saudi-led coalition but has been a target of a ground campaign this year.

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