UN says over 25,000 people fled Yemen fighting at Hodeida
UN says over 25,000 people fled Yemen fighting at Hodeida
Losing Hudaida would seriously weaken the Houthis by severing supply lines from the Red Sea to their stronghold in the capital Sanaa
23 June, 2018, 13:24
They are backed by Emirati troops on the ground and Saudi and UAE warplanes and Apache attack helicopters.
Fierce battles were also underway in the al-Durayhimi district outside Hodeida, about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) south of the airport, the officials said. Fierce fighting this month has displaced 5,200 families mostly from districts south of the city, United Nations officials said, adding that the number of those fleeing the violence was expected to rise.
Abuzaraa al-Mahrabi, a commander for the Army loyal to the internationally-backed Yemeni government said that Houthi insurgents had relinquished control of the airport and fled north back into Hudaydah city.
Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the United Nations secretary-general, said about 5,200 families or about 26,000 people have left the region to seek safety adding that "the number is expected to increase as hostilities continue".
On Sunday, it said a Houthi missile targeted the southern city of Jizan, leaving a Pakistani national wounded.
The coalition launched a major offensive on Wednesday to drive the rebels out of Hodeida, a Red Sea port which is the entry point for some three-quarters of Yemen's imports.
Fierce fighting raged Tuesday outside the airport of the crucial Yemeni city of Hodeida as thousands of pro-government fighters backed by a Saudi-led coalition battled Iranian-allied Shiite rebels for control of the Red Sea port - the main passageway for food and aid supplies in a country teetering on the brink of starvation.
Col. Turki al-Malki, a coalition spokesman, said its forces took over the airport and are clearing Houthi land-mines.
The battle for Hodeida has sparked fears of a new escalation of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which is already teetering on the brink of starvation.
Global humanitarian agencies have warned that an assault on Hodeidah would be a major disaster to the densely populated port city and would block aid supplies to more than 20 million people. Some 70 percent of Yemen's food enters via the port, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies. "We an hear the sound of artillery and machinegun fire", said a resident who requested anonymity. Around two-thirds of the country's population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are already at risk of starving.
So far, there have been "four or five civilians" killed, Gargash said, which he blamed on the Houthis.
Though the coalition pledged to try to avoid battles in crowded urban neighborhoods, the Houthis were well dug into Hodeidah to protect the key supply line to the core northern territory they control, including the capital, Sanaa.
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