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Saudi-backed forces begin assault on Hudaydah port rising fears of humanitarian disaster
by NRC, ICRC, Unicef, OCHA, agencies
13 June 2018
Pro-government forces in Yemen, backed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf States, have begun attacking the coastal city of Hudaydah held by Houthi rebel fighters. The city is a key port where most commercial goods and humanitarian aid arrives in Yemen.
The military strikes began after Houthi rebels ignored a deadline to withdraw from the city by midnight (21:00 GMT on Tuesday).
The port is a lifeline for the majority of Yemen''s population and the UN had been trying to get parties to the conflict to reach a deal that would avert an attack.
An estimated 600,000 people live in the area. Robert Mardini, regional head for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the attack was "likely to exacerbate an already catastrophic humanitarian situation".
''Lifelines to the outside world must be maintained, including the Hodeida port and the Sana''a airport. Real people, real families, will suffer if no food is getting in, and we are concerned that ongoing military operations continue to hamper the arrival of essential goods.
We are concerned about Hodeida''s essential infrastructure, including its water and electricity networks, which are vital to the civilian population''s survival.
The ICRC urges all parties to the conflict to respect civilian life by taking every possible measure to protect civilians, and to allow safe passage for those who want to escape the fighting''.
"Under international humanitarian law, parties to the conflict have to do everything possible to protect civilians and ensure they have access to the assistance they need to survive," Lise Grande, UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, told Reuters news agency.
The organization warned the coalition against striking the city amid concerns a battle could worsen one of the world''s worst humanitarian crises and cause some 250,000 deaths in a worst-case scenario. International UN officials were ordered to leave the city on Monday.
BBC correspondent Nawal Al-Maghafi:
''If the battle is prolonged, it will leave millions of Yemenis without food, fuel and other vital supplies.. In reality, families in Hudaydah are already starving and desperately relying on humanitarian aid. Reporting from the city last year, I saw children who were severely undeveloped, their ribs protruding. They were living off a peanut-based paste provided by aid agencies. The hospitals were desperately trying to do what they could but were overwhelmed by cases of malnutrition and cholera. Now this battle threatens to push these people completely over the brink. Meanwhile, the possibility of the warring sides returning to the negotiating table seems even more remote''.
Atrocity Alert No. 109, 13 June 2018: Yemen - Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
Today, 13 June, a major military offensive on the Red Sea port of Hodeidah began following an intensification of fighting between Yemeni government forces - backed by a Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE)-led military coalition - and Houthi fighters. Saudi and UAE-backed government forces are on the southern outskirts of the Houthi-controlled city of 600,000 people. On Monday, 11 June, it was reported that an estimated 600 people had been killed during fighting in the al-Durayhmi and Bayt al-Faqih areas. The UAE reportedly gave all humanitarian workers in Hodeidah three-days to evacuate prior to launching today''s offensive.
Yemen is currently the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with 10.4 million people at risk of famine. Hodeidah is the entry point for 70 percent of the aid upon which over 22 million Yemenis depend. The attack on Hodeidah places millions more people at risk of starvation and could violate UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions 2140 and 2216, regarding obstruction of the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
On Friday, 8 June, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned that a sustained battle or siege of Hodeidah could lead to the deaths of as many as 250,000 civilians.
Since 2015 all parties to the conflict in Yemen have used indiscriminate weapons in civilian populated areas and targeted civilian infrastructure, amounting to possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Norwegian Refugee Council''s Country Director in Yemen Mohamed Abdi said:
"Hodeida port is no less than Yemen''s lifeline. Yemen is almost totally reliant on imported food, medicine and fuel, up to 80 percent of which historically reached the country through Hodeida. An attack on the port would damage pivotal food and fuel pipeline for millions, risking deepening Yemen''s already acute food and health crisis"
"Any attack will have catastrophic consequences for civilians - risking hundreds of thousands of lives. We call on all parties to the conflict to refrain from any further military activities in and around Hodeida city."
"We urge the US, UK and France - as those country that can influence the Coalition - to immediately issue a clear and unequivocal warning against an attack on Hodeida city or port. These countries, working closely with the UN Special Envoy, have a critical role to play to prevent further suffering in Yemen, which is already the world''s worst humanitarian crisis."
Attack on Hodeidah multiplies horror and death in Yemen - CARE
As the offensive on the key Yemeni port of Hodeidah has begun, CARE International in Yemen warns that this will have a catastrophic impact on the civilian population. “We have had more than 30 airstrikes within 30 minutes this morning around the city. Some civilians are entrapped, others forced from their homes. We thought it could not get any worse, but unfortunately we were wrong,” says Jolien Veldwijk, CARE’s acting Country Director in Yemen.
“This attack risks more people dying, but it also risks cutting the lifeline of millions of Yemenis. Food imports already reached the lowest levels since the conflict started and the price of basic commodities has risen by a third. We are gravely concerned that parts of the population could experience famine,” says Veldwijk.
According to the UN more than a quarter million people could lose everything, including their lives. The civil war in Yemen has already cost the lives of more than 10,000 people, and is labelled as today’s worst humanitarian disaster. More than 22 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, more than 8 million people already face the risk of starvation.
“The attack on Hodeidah as the main point of entry for aid in Yemen will multiply horror and death in Yemen,” says Veldwijk. “We urge all parties to refrain from any further military activities in and around Hodeidah city and the port. People are already exhausted, starving, and have no means to cope with any further escalation of war.”
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore:
“As Hodeida faces the threat of an assault, I am extremely concerned about the impact it will have on children in this port city and beyond.
“UNICEF estimates that at least 300,000 children currently live in and around Hodeidah city – boys and girls who have been suffering for so long already.
“Millions more children throughout Yemen depend on the humanitarian and commercial goods that come through that port every day for their very survival. Without food imports, one of the world’s worst malnutrition crises will only worsen. Without fuel imports, critical for water pumping, people’s access to drinking water will shrink further, leading to even more cases of acute watery diarrhea and cholera, both of which can be deadly for small children.
“There are 11 million children in need of humanitarian aid in this war-torn country. Choking off this lifeline will have devastating consequences for every one of them''.

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Libya Protect Civilians under siege in Derna
by OHCHR, Amnesty International
11 June 2018
Libya – escalating risks. (OHCHR)
We are deeply alarmed at the escalating risks to the population in the eastern city of Derna in Libya, where fighting has intensified in recent days with the Libyan National Army group – the LNA - reported to have taken over densely populated districts.
There have been increasing allegations that civilians have been arbitrarily detained, while others have been prevented from leaving the city.
The humanitarian situation in Derna, which has a population of some 125,000, is also said to be deteriorating, with shortages of food, water and medicine. Since 5 June, the city’s only hospital has been closed and we have documented the deaths of three women as a result of the lack of oxygen supplies.
Our concern for civilians and fighters who have surrendered, laid down their weapons, are sick or wounded, or otherwise hors de combat is all the greater given the serious violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law that we documented during fighting for control of the eastern oil crescent and for parts of the city of Benghazi, both in early 2017.
We urge all parties to the conflict in Derna, including the LNA and the Derna Protection Forces, to take all feasible measures to protect civilians. We call on the LNA to allow unimpeded humanitarian assistance to reach the city. We also call on all parties to the conflict to ensure that the wounded and sick, both civilians and those who have participated in hostilities, are cared for, including through medical evacuations. They should also facilitate safe passage for civilians wishing to leave the city.
All commanders should take effective steps to ensure that their forces comply with their obligations under international law. The population of Derna must be protected and treated with dignity and respect.

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