445,000 Ye­me­nis have fled Hodeida area: UN

The Western Star - - WORLD - BY MENNA ZAKI

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of Ye­me­nis from the Hodeida area have been forced to flee amid a Saudi-led coali­tion of­fen­sive to take the key Red Sea port city from Shi­ite rebels, the United Na­tions’ refugee agency said Fri­day, as fierce bat­tles con­tinue to rage in the area.

Some 445,000 of the Hodeida gov­er­norate’s res­i­dents have fled since June, a fig­ure that un­der­scores the dire sit­u­a­tion in and around the city that serves as the main en­try point for food and aid, the UN­HCR said. The gov­er­norate’s pop­u­la­tion is around 3 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the Nor­we­gian Refugee Coun­cil.

The UN­HCR also ex­pressed con­cern over the safety of those trapped in Hodeida as the in­ten­si­fied mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions “are in­creas­ingly con­fin­ing pop­u­la­tions and cut­ting off exit routes.” Fig­ures on those still in Hodeida are dif­fi­cult to gauge, the agency added.

Ye­meni gov­ern­ment forces sup­ported by the coali­tion’s air and naval forces con­tinue to en­gage in heavy fight­ing with the rebels, known as Houthis. The fight­ing has killed dozens of com­bat­ants from both sides, with dozens of mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles de­stroyed or burn­ing along the front lines.

In a Fri­day state­ment, Ye­men’s in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized gov­ern­ment based in the south­ern city of Aden said its forces are ad­vanc­ing to­ward the north and west of Hodeida and across all fronts with cover from the coali­tion.

Also Fri­day, the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion said the vi­o­lence in Hodeida is in close prox­im­ity to the city’s health fa­cil­i­ties, im­ped­ing their abil­ity to func­tion and re­strict­ing the move­ment of health staff, pa­tients and am­bu­lances.

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