1206 GMT August 19, 2018
A military attack or siege on the western city, long a target in the war, could cost up to 250,000 lives, a senior UN humanitarian official warned on Friday. The Red Sea port is a lifeline for eight million Yemenis, handling most of the country’s commercial imports and aid supplies, Reuters reported.
Heavy fighting erupted on Friday and Saturday in Al-Durayhmi, a rural area where Emirati-led troops are now 10 kilometers (six miles) south of Hodeidah, and in Bayt al-Faqih, 35 kilometers from the city, local military sources said. Coalition warplanes and warships launched strikes targeting the Houthis, they added.
A spokesman for the Western-backed alliance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
UN Yemen mediator Martin Griffiths has been holding talks with the Houthis to hand over control of the port to the United Nations, Yemeni political sources have said.
Yemen has been racked by violence since 2014. The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a devastating air campaign aimed at undermining the Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstating former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.
Previous UN efforts have failed to end the more than three-year-old conflict.
The alliance has conducted thousands of airstrikes since it intervened in the war in 2015 and has often hit civilian areas, although it denies ever doing so intentionally.
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 famine and cholera epidemic, according to the United Nations.