06/18/2018, 11.31
YEMEN
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Vicar of Arabia: with Pope Francis, a day of prayer for peace in Yemen

The Saudi coalition offensive to conquer the port of Hudaydah continues. Dozens of victims, and aid at risk. Msgr. Hinder: the pontiff calls to dialogue "important". But the situation is worrying, the danger of an "even greater catastrophe". Pessimism shrouds dialogue.

Sana'a (AsiaNews) - The Pope's appeal for peace "is the only one that can still have a certain influence", this is why  his call to dialogue and reconciliation is "always important". The hope is that his words will be heeded by "those who are in charge of making decisions", says the Apostolic vicar of southern Arabia (United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen), Msgr. Paul Hinder.

The prelate closely monitors the escalation of violence in the Arab country. "On Saturday 23 June – he adds - I called a day of prayer in the Vicariate for Peace in Yemen. Not to forget the victims of this conflict and the martyrs that are counted even within the Christian community, including the four sisters of Mother Teresa" killed in March 2016 in Aden.

Yesterday at the Angelus, Pope Francis launched a new appeal for peace in Yemen, which is close to a "humanitarian catastrophe". The pontiff renewed his invitation to the international community to "spare no effort to bring the parties involved to the negotiating table urgently and avoid a worsening of the situation".

For days an offensive by the Saudi forces has been underway in the Arab country.  The Saudi led coalition is seeking to wrest the port of Hudaydah from the control of the Houthi militias, supported by Iran. The area is of great strategic importance, as it is the only point of docking for humanitarian aid, destined for a population prostrated by over three years of war.

The life of at least 250 thousand people is now at risk, added to the 10 thousand victims caused so far, including many children. The blockade imposed by Riyadh in November has worsened an already dire situation with seven million people relying totally on aid and humanitarian assistance to survive.

Yesterday there were heavy clashes for the fifth consecutive day. The pro-government forces, supported by the Saudis, exchanged mortar rounds with the Houthi near the airport. The military continues the advance from the south and west, conquering more and more portions of the territory.

Medical and military sources speak of at least 139 fighters killed. However, the Houthi militias deny official versions and claim that resistance continues. The eventual conquest of the port of Hudaydah would represent the most important victory for the Saudi coalition in this war.

Commenting on the situation of violence and tension, Msgr. Hinder emphasizes that the assault of these days in Hudaydah is "a strategic and vital area for the country". It is the entry point for help and basic necessities "essential for the survival of part of the population, especially those living in the highlands and in the mountainous areas. If the aid stops, it will be an even greater catastrophe ".

For the near future and the evolution of the situation, the vicar of Arabia does not hide "a certain pessimism: everything depends on how the winners of the offensive will act. What is certain is that the brunt of the outcome will be born by the people”.

“The best  way forward- he concludes - would be  dialogue and reconciliation but, to date, no one has shown any intention to pursue this path. The logic of  head-on collision prevails, all or nothing, that certainly does not favor negotiation”.

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