Yemen: UN calls for ceasefire as clashes resume in Hodeidah port

Yemen: UN calls for ceasefire as clashes resume in Hodeidah port

The United Nations is calling for an immediate end to clashes near Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah after a surge in fighting that sources said has killed dozens of people despite a UN-sponsored ceasefire in place in the area.

Hodeidah governorate has seen sporadic, limited fighting since the truce was agreed in late 2018 but intense clashes broke out this week between forces loyal to the Houthi movement and those allied with Yemen’s Saudi-backed government around al-Durayhimi city and the nearby town of Hais.

Military and medical sources said dozens of people had been killed in the clashes. The UN statement on Thursday cited reports of a number of casualties among civilians, including women and children.

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said the military escalation violates the truce agreement and ���runs against the spirit of the ongoing UN-facilitated negotiations that aim to achieve a nationwide ceasefire, humanitarian and economic measures and the resumption of the political process”.

The Hodeidah agreement reached at UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden in December 2018 had stipulated a redeployment of troops from both sides which was never fully implemented.

Houthi-held Hodeidah is the main entry point for Yemen’s commercial imports and aid. Some 80 percent of the population relies on humanitarian assistance and millions face famine in what the United Nations describes as the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.

Yemen has been mired in conflict since the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels removed the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from power in 2014.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. Riyadh launched informal talks for a ceasefire with the Houthis late last year as it seeks to exit a costly war.

The conflict in the Arab world’s poorest country erupted in 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital and much of the country’s north. A Saudi-led coalition, determined to restore Hadi’s government, launched a military intervention in March 2015.

The war in Yemen has left millions suffering from food and medical shortages. It has killed more than 100,000 people, including fighters and civilians.