UN expresses ‘great concern’ over Houthis’ use of Hodeidah ports for warfare

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NEW YORK: The UN on Tuesday expressed “great concern” over allegations that the ports of the Yemeni city of Hodeidah are being used for warfare by the Houthi militia, as the UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement demanded access for inspection.

The UNMHA reminded parties to the conflict that the ports are a crucial lifeline for millions of Yemenis, called on them to preserve the civilian character of the ports’ infrastructure, and urged restraint in resolving the matter.

Last week, the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen condemned the Houthis for using the ports to launch attacks on global maritime trade, as well as produce and smuggle weapons.

“The Houthi rebels have been practicing piracy in the international waters of the Red Sea and Bab Al-Mandab, which threatens maritime security and poses a big threat to global trade,” the coalition said on Saturday.

It added that the Houthis’ attack on the UAE’s Rawabi ship is “a severe violation of international laws and threatens maritime security.”

The coalition said the seized vessel was carrying medical supplies. Its hijacking by the Houthis raised fears that the conflict could spill over into the Red Sea, a vital maritime route for oil and trade between Europe and the Middle East.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric expressed concern over the renewed fighting in Yemen, which “can only have a negative impact on the already extremely dire humanitarian situation” in the country.

“(Fighting) continues to make our humanitarian work that much more complicated, that much more difficult to deliver aid to those who need it. And it just prolongs the years-long suffering of the Yemeni people.”

Dujarric encouraged all parties to rally around the efforts of the UN and its envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, in order to “bring about peace and stability” in the country.

Grundberg on Tuesday concluded a visit to the UK, where he met senior officials including James Cleverly, minister for the Middle East and North Africa.

Grundberg said discussions in London included the deteriorating economic situation in Yemen, the recent military escalation and “its impact on prospects of reaching a peaceful and just solution to the conflict.”

He added: “There are no sustainable solutions to be gained from military escalation. The parties can and should engage in a sustained political dialogue aimed at de-escalating the violence and finding a way towards a negotiated comprehensive solution.”

He said: “The structured and consistent support of the international community and the Security Council member states is essential for the success of this effort.”

Grundberg will brief the UN Security Council on Wednesday during its regular meeting on the situation in Yemen.

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