Security

Houthis destroy humanitarian aid meant to alleviate crisis in Yemen

By Al-Mashareq and AFP

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A picture of the September 11 Mokha port attack by the Houthis as seen on social media.

The Iran-backed Houthis on Saturday (September 11) fired missiles and explosives-laden drones at a key Red Sea port used to bring humanitarian aid into Yemen, government officials said.

At least six projectiles were fired at Mokha port in southwestern Yemen, according to local and international media outlets.

There were no reported casualties, but warehouses containing food stockpiles that belong to traders and humanitarian agencies that work on Yemen's western coast were destroyed, Emirati newspaper The National reported.

Mokha port reopened for business a month ago after reconstruction and renovation work, a government official said.

Yemen's Ministry of Transport said the attack was timed to coincide with a visit by senior government officials.

"The delegation arrived at the harbour 10 minutes before the attack, including the head of the Environment Protection Authority, the director of the Maritime Economics and Transport Authority and the port director," Bassam al-Muflehy, head of the transport minister's office, told The National.

The southwestern port, north of Bab al-Mandeb strait -- a key passage for international trade -- is the headquarters of government forces in the region and has served as an Arab coalition base, media sources said.

It is vital for the import and delivery of humanitarian supplies.

Yemen's Minister of Foreign and Expatriates Affairs Ahmed bin Mubarak condemned the attack on Twitter, describing it as a clear violation against international humanitarian law.

The attackers intended to intensify the Houthis' siege of Taez "by destroying its only port to import food and medicine", he said.

He noted that Mokha once served as "the main source of exporting coffee".

Southwest Yemen has been relatively free of such attacks since the signing in 2018 of the Stockholm Agreement, a peace deal brokered by the United Nations (UN) in Sweden.

Sporadic clashes have taken place in the region, sparking appeals for calm from the UN, which has been unable to secure similar deals elsewhere in Yemen.

Some 80% of Yemenis are now dependent on aid, in what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The war has displaced millions of people.

The UN has issued regular warnings that Yemen could see major famine in 2021, after it raised just $1.7 billion of the $3.85 billion it says the country needs.

Houthi offensive 'must stop'

The Houthis' offensive in northern Marib province "must stop", the UN's new Yemen envoy, Hans Grundberg, told the Security Council on Friday.

"Civilians, including the many internally displaced persons (IDPs) who sought refuge in Marib, live in constant fear of violence and renewed displacement," the newly-appointed Swedish official said.

"The UN and the international community has been clear in its message: The offensive must stop."

The offensive in the Marib region has been going on since the beginning of 2020 and has "killed thousands of young Yemenis", the envoy said.

"The fighting must stop, the violence has to come to an end," he insisted.

The province of Marib, the last bastion of government power in the war-torn north of the country, is regularly the scene of violent clashes.

"The peace process has been stalled for too long. The conflict parties have not discussed a comprehensive settlement since 2016," Grundberg said.

He said he would soon travel to Saudi Arabia to meet Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and planned to see the Houthis as well.

Talks are also planned with Saudi, Omani, Emirati, Kuwaiti, Iranian and Egyptian officials, he said.

Oman has long served as a mediator in the conflict.

Oman's Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Albusaidi on Sunday told Al-Arabiya that the sultanate's role in the Yemen crisis "is to help" and to bring the divergent views together. "It is our duty to help Yemen stabilise," he said.

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