The World health agency has warned about the “critical” conditions of civilians in Yemen’s Hudaydah, which has been subject to a Saudi-led offensive for weeks, saying military operations in the key port city threaten over 70 percent of the Yemenis in need of relief aid.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that the health conditions in Hudaydah were some of “the most dire in the country” even before the assault began last month on the Red Sea port, a lifeline for the majority of Yemen’s population.
Hudaydah, the WHO said, had registered the highest incidences of suspected cholera cases -around 14 percent of those reported nationwide – with 209 suspected cases of diphtheria and 252 of measles.
“The intensification of fighting in Hudaydah endangered not only those directly affected but also the 70 percent of the population who depended on vital supplies, including health-care supplies, that flowed through Hudaydah port,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said. “The port constituted a lifeline not only for the city but for all the northern governorates.”
Backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, Emirati forces and militants loyal to Yemen’s former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, launched the Hudaydah offensive on June 13 despite international warnings that it would compound the impoverished nation’s humanitarian crisis.
The Saudi-led coalition, which has been waging a war against Yemen since early 2015, claims that the Houthis are using Hudaydah for weapons delivery, an allegation rejected by the fighters.
The coalition of aggressors has, however, failed to gain any major gains in the face of stiff resistance by the Houthi fighters and their allied forces.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Jasarevic said that a total of 46 deaths and 328 injured were recorded in Hudaydah between June 13 and July 7.
Despite the decline in fighting, he added, the conditions for civilians remain “critical.”
He also warned that continued fighting “will likely further exacerbate the situation” in the port city, which has already been grappling with one of the highest malnutrition rates in Yemen.
Separately, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Tuesday that 1,316 Yemeni children were killed and maimed last year, 51 percent of them in Saudi airstrikes.
It also estimated that 842 boys had been recruited by various sides to the Yemeni conflict.
Most Yemenis to require aid in 2018: IOM
Additionally on Tuesday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that half the Yemeni population is living in areas directly affected by the conflict and that more than two thirds would require humanitarian aid during 2018.
IOM spokesman Joel Millman estimated that almost 90 percent of all internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been displaced for at least one year or more.
“The protracted nature of the displacement is straining IDPs and host communities’ abilities to cope,” he added.
UN peace efforts
Meanwhile, the UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, met with Hadi on Tuesday in a bid to broker a truce between the ex-Yemeni regime and the Houthi fighters.
Yemen’s Saba news agency reported that Hadi had discussed “the prospect of peace” with the UN envoy.
Griffiths said that they had exchanged views on the possible resumption of political negotiations between Hadi loyalists and the Houthis as well as the issue of “prisoners being released and exchanged.”
Earlier this month, the UN envoy held talks with the Houthis in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a.