THE Arab Coalition is engaged in a battle to reclaim the Red Sea port of Hodeida in Yemen following the launch of a military and humanitarian aid in the country.
The ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to South Africa, Mahash Saeed Alhameli said the operation was aimed at ensuring an unimpeded supply of humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people by liberating the Read Sea port city of Hodeida from the Houthi rebels.
“The operation around Hodeida is aimed at alleviating the suffering of the civilian population and to create conditions favourable to achieving a negotiated settlement by cutting off the supply of illicit arms that have fuelled the insurgency,” he said.
“Under the authority of the legitimate Yemeni Government, the Arab Coalition force has been spearheaded by the Yemeni national army and local resistance fighters, many of whom are from the Hodeida area. The Arab Coalition Force also includes military elements from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other nations.”
Earlier in the week, Reuters reported that a Saudi-led alliance of Arab states launched the largest assault of Yemen’s war with an attack on the main port city, aiming to drive the ruling Houthi movement to its knees at the risk of worsening the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.
Arab warplanes and warships pounded Houthi fortifications to support ground operations by foreign and Yemeni troops massed south of the port of Hodeidah in operation “Golden Victory”.
The assault marks the first time the Arab states have tried to capture such a heavily-defended major city since they joined the war three years ago against the Iran-aligned Houthis, who control the capital Sana’a and most of the populated areas.
The Houthis had deployed military vehicles and troops in the city centre and near the port, as coalition warplanes flew overhead striking a coastal strip to the south. People were fleeing by routes out to the north and west.
Alhameli said rampant corruption and mismanagement while under the control of the Houthi rebels, Hodeida and the other Red Sea ports have been operating far below capacity, severely limiting the flow of aid.
“The Arab Coalition’s most pressing concern is to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The UAE and Arab Coalition continue to strongly support efforts of special envoy Martin Griffiths as consistent with the UN Security Council Resolutions,” he said.
Alhameli added that the Arab Coalition recognises that the on going operations in and around Hodeida represent a significant humanitarian challenge and is working closely with major aid agencies operating in Yemen through the UN’s humanitarian coordination mechanism to help address the needs of the civilian population.
“Teen Al-Hashemi, UAE minister of state for international cooperation noted that the Arab Coalition had prepared a comprehensive, large scale plan for the rapid delivery of humanitarian aid to Hodeida. He said we have ships, planes and trucks with food supplies and medicine to address the immediate needs of the people,” he said.
Alhameli called on the Houthi rebels to respect their obligations under the international humanitarian law by ensuring the safety of civilians.
“Liberating Hodeida and hastening the end of the conflict will also help to refocus attention on the fight against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS, which presents a risk to Yemen as well as other countries stability, targeted by these extremist groups. The Arab Coalition calls for other nations and interested parties to intensify their efforts in support of the political transition process as well as humanitarian efforts to meet the critical needs of the Yemeni people,” he said.