Saudi-backed forces advance towards Yemens Hodeidah as UN warns of famine

Charlene Craig
November 4, 2018

Almost 10,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict so far, according to the World Health Organisation.

Geert Cappelaere told The Associated Press in an interview from Yemen that recent US calls for a cease-fire are imperative to ending the almost four-year war, which pits a Saudi-led coalition against Iran-aligned rebels known as Houthis.

The Houthis, through their own television station, confirmed that more than 30 airstrikes had targeted the air base and other areas around the capital.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that Yemen is teetering "on a precipice", appealing to the global community to put an end to the Saudi war on the impoverished nation.

Three-quarters of Yemen s 29 million people are food insecure, 1.8 million children suffer from malnutrition and 400,000 children under age 5 are at risk of death from starvation.

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Sanaa was mostly hit with airstrikes, while locals reported heavy clashes around Hodeidah, a vital port city that Saudi forces have been massing around all week.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday had called for a halt to violence to pull Yemen back from the "precipice".

Geert Cappelaere, regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at United Nations children's agency Unicef, called on the warring parties to join proposed peace talks later this month and agree to a ceasefire.

The port is the entry point for more than 70% of imports into the impoverished country.

Yemen has been at war since March 2015 when the rebels, known as Houthis, occupied northern regions and forced the government into exile.

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Earlier on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Houthi rebels should pause fighting and begin negotiations on a possible peace deal.

He pointed out the situation of particular concern to Hodeida, a port city on the west of the country held by rebels and pro-government forces looking to take over.

Yemeni government officials said on Tuesday that the coalition had sent more than 10,000 new troops towards the battleground city.

Despite a high-profile modernisation drive aimed at improving Saudi Arabia's image and attracting foreign investment, rights groups have detailed a crackdown on activists, increase in executions and discrimination against the Shiite minority.

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