The UN has warned that a Saudi attack on Yemen’s Houthi-controlled port city of Hudaydah could displace half a million civilians.
“Between 100,000 and half a million people could be displaced as the conflict and humanitarian situation continue to worsen,” said Shabia Mantoo, the spokesperson for the UN refugee agency, on Wednesday.
Located in the southern Yemeni province of Tai’zz, Hudaydah is part of a broad battlefront where Saudi forces are fighting the Yemeni army and its Houthi allies, which are in control of most of Yemen’s northern and western regions. Some 80 percent of the war-torn country’s food imports and relief aid also come through the port.
“The humanitarian situation alone continues to worsen even without the conflict intensifying,” she added.
She went on to note that severe food insecurity in the region has already reached critical levels, a fact which itself will worsen the large-scale displacement.
The UN had warned before that further Saudi military action against the port would “need to take into account the need to avoid any further deterioration in the humanitarian situation.”
Despite repeated assaults and heavy bombardments, Saudi Arabia has failed to seize the strategic port. On March 19, Riyadh called for jurisdiction over Hudaydah to be transferred to the UN, a move which the world body rejected.
Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to bring back to power the resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh, and to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement. The Riyadh regime has, however, failed to reach its goals despite suffering great expense.
The military aggression has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people, most of them civilians.