UN envoy due in Yemen to end Hudaydah crisis

June 26, 2018

UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths is expected to arrive in the southern city of Aden on Wednesday for talks with internationally-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, government officials said.

The visit comes as Hadi’s forces back a Saudi-led coalition offensive to recapture the strategic Red Sea port town of Hudaydah from the Houthis.

The UN fears that the assault on the port, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis, could trigger a famine imperilling millions of lives.

One official said Griffiths would be there only for a few hours for talks.

“There is a proposal on the table,” the Foreign Minister of Hadi’s government, Khaled Al-Yamani, told reporters in Riyadh.

Read: 5,200 families flee fighting in Hudaydah

“We would accept a peace initiative on the condition that militias leave the western coast,” he said at a joint press conference to announce a $40 million project launched by Saudi Arabia for de-mining operations in Yemen.

The Houthis have indicated they would be willing to hand over management of the port to the United Nations, sources told Reuters. A US official said Washington was urging the Saudis and Emiratis to accept the deal.

However in a live broadcast on Al-Masirah TV last week, the head of the Houthis said the group had offered the UN a supervisory role to monitor the port of Hudaydah but rejected the proposal.

Saudi air defence forces intercepted two rockets over Riyadh late yesterday, sending debris measuring up to several metres hurtling towards residential areas.

Pieces fell near the US mission in the Saudi capital and at a school in the diplomatic quarter. Debris sparked a fire at a construction site ten kilometres further south and fell on the roof of a private residence, but Saudi officials said there were no casualties.

“Our rockets will reach places that the enemy will not expect,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam said. “The longer the aggression and war continue, the greater our ballistic missile capabilities.”

Coalition-backed forces seized Hudaydah airport last week and have been consolidating their hold in the area as more Houthi fighters, many armed with AK-47 assault rifles, were deployed in the city and around the port.

The United Nations fears heavy fighting will worsen what is already the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis, with 22 million Yemenis dependent on aid and an estimated 8.4 million believed to be on the verge of starvation.