“The countries meeting in Paris this week must work to bring an end to the fighting in Yemen where millions of lives are at stake. There is still time to avoid that Hodeidah port, the Rotterdam of Yemen, is destroyed in battle. The main lifeline to Yemen’s suffering civilians cannot be allowed to break,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
Wednesday’s humanitarian conference on the Yemen crisis organised by France is co-hosted by Saudi Arabia, one of the parties to the conflict. It takes place while hundreds of thousands of Yemenis risk being trapped in a crossfire as fighting escalates in Hodeidah, one of the most densely populated areas of the country.
NRC calls for a ceasefire, full adherence to assurances that all ports will remain open and fully functioning, re-opening of Sana’a airport and an end to restrictions on humanitarian access in all provinces by all parties to the conflict.
“More and better aid is urgently needed to save lives in Yemen. But the first and best way to help people is to end this senseless war. The UN envoy must be empowered to find an international arrangement for Hodeidah port and to host peace talks that can end the bloodshed. Paris is the perfect occation to announce a cease-fire as a first step on the road to peace. The US and UK can push the Saudi and UAE side to the negotiations table, just as Iran can leverage Ansar Allah before the conflict escalates beyond hope” said Egeland.
Some 43,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Hodeidah Governorate since the Saudi-led offensive started on 13 June. Its population of 3 million people faces risk of mass displacement, flare-up of its deadly cholera outbreak and even famine if the offensive continues. Prior to the current fighting, three in five people in Hodeidah relied on humanitarian assistance.
“The situation here is really terrifying. We hear all kinds of explosions and weapons every day, from small guns to airstrikes and naval battleships. In the beginning, the sounds were further away from the city but they are getting closer and closer each day. People here are in a state of intense fear and panic,” said Mo’ath, a Yemeni civilian living in Hodeidah.
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