Yemen: thousands of civilian lives at risk in Hodeidah attack

Unicef food supplies being unloaded at Hodeidah port earlier this year © ABDO HYDER/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi coalition has been restricting aid imports despite promises to lift blockade

Responding to news that Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition have launched a military offensive on the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, Lynn Malouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said: 

“The assault on Hodeidah could have a devastating impact for hundreds of thousands of civilians - not just in the city, but throughout Yemen.

“With an estimated 600,000 people living in and around Hodeidah, all sides to the conflict must take all feasible precautions to ensure that the civilian population is protected.  

“Equally vital is that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and Huthi forces ensure the flow of aid and essential goods isn’t impeded in any way, as millions of people remain at risk of famine across the country. 

“Hodeidah’s port is crucial to a country that is 80% dependent on imports to meet basic necessities. Cutting off this crucial supply line would further exacerbate what is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“During the past three years of fighting in Yemen, all parties to the conflict have disregarded their obligations under international humanitarian law, consistently carrying out unlawful attacks that have killed or injured civilians. A repeat of such violations in Hodeidah would put thousands of lives at risk and must be avoided at all costs.”

Deliberate restrictions on aid

Research carried out by Amnesty prior to today’s military operation - due to be published soon - shows that the Saudi-led coalition had been restricting or severely delaying commercial imports to the Red Sea ports, despite announcing in November that it had lifted its blockade. 

Amnesty has also documented how the Huthi de facto authorities have obstructed the movement of humanitarian aid within the country through its permit system and in some cases through extortion. These obstacles have compounded the already dire humanitarian situation and violate international law. 

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