11/06/2018, 10.06
YEMEN
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Yemeni drama deepens with tens of thousands under siege in Hudaydah port

The Saudi coalition is preparing for the final assault against the Houthi. 80% of food and humanitarian aid flows through Hudaydah. The fights are concentrated around the university and could involve the most important hospital in the city. AsiaNews sources: no glimmers of hope for "improvement". Fear of famine for up to 14 million people.

Sana'a (AsiaNews) - Tens of thousands of civilians are under siege in the southern suburbs of Hudaydah, a port city in the eastern part of the country, a strategic point for the passage of goods and people. In the area, the Saudi Arabian coalition has long launched a massive offensive against the Houthi Shiite militia, barricaded in the area and ready for a bloody battle to defend the territory.

In recent days, the Arab coalition has amassed thousands of soldiers around the city, strengthening the siege against the Houthi. However, a spokesperson states that "the final assault" is not "imminent" and will still need time to prepare.

Approximately 80% of the food and humanitarian aid destined for Yemen flows through the port of Hudaydah. The fights are concentrated around the university, about four kilometers from the port. The fear is that the battle will swallow up Al Thaoura hospital, where hundreds of patients are hospitalized. "All the civilians living between the airport and the university - emphasizes Isaac Ooko. responsible for the Norwegian Refugee Council (Nrc) – are effectively under siege. The last four days have been tough, a catastrophe ".

Meanwhile, AsiaNews sources in the country, who prefer anonymity, confirm that the situation "remains dramatic" and there are no "glimmers" of hope for "in an improvement in the near future". The only hope, the source warns, consists "in the end or at least an interruption of the conflict". However, none of the warring parties - from Saudi Arabia to Iran, passing through the United Arab Emirates - "seems willing to lay down their arms".

The dramatic scale of the conflict between government forces supported by Saudi and Houthi (pro-Iranian) rebels is contained in the figures: according to official estimates from March 2015 to today there have been over 10 thousand deaths and at least 55 thousand injured. In fact, some independent bodies set the toll (between January 2016 and end of July 2018) at around 50,000 deaths. Given that it only concerns the combatants in the field, not the so-called "indirect victims" (civilians) of malnutrition or cholera.

Furthermore, according to UN experts, Yemen is running "the obvious danger" of an looming famine of gigantic proportions that could affect up to 14 million people. The price of food has more than doubled, the local currency is at historic lows, the continuous air strikes by the Saudi Arabian-led Arab coalition have boosted the number of civilian casualties (+ 164%) and the blockade of imports prevents the entry of food and medicines.

All of this combined create the perfect conditions for the worst famine of the last 100 years.

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