The Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen has sent more than 10,000 new troops towards a vital rebel-held port city ahead of a new assault, Yemeni government officials said Tuesday, October 30.
The pro-government coalition deployed the reinforcements to the Red Sea coast ahead of a new offensive on Hodeidah “within days,” a military official told AFP.
He said they would also “secure areas liberated” from the Iran-linked Houthi rebels, and that forces from Sudan, part of the coalition, had moved in to “secure” areas around the city.
Houthi rebels have for the past 10 days been stationing fighters on rooftops of buildings in Hodeidah city, government military officials told AFP.
The adjacent port is the entry point for more than 70 percent of imports to the impoverished country, which is teetering on the edge of famine.
More than 22 million Yemenis – three quarters of the population – are in need of humanitarian assistance.
People struggling to survive are also confronted with a collapsed economy, leaving government clerks without pay and state institutions practically crippled.
The newly appointed Yemeni prime minister said on Tuesday that the government was committed to improving the country’s economic situation.
“It will focus on addressing the flaws in management and the economy … and on the flaws in state institutions,” Moeen Abulmalik Saeed told the state-run Saba news agency on his first official visit to the government’s de facto capital Aden.
The Yemeni riyal has lost more than two-thirds of its value against the dollar since 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the Yemen conflict in support of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
The coalition has been waging an aerial bombing campaign in Yemen aimed at pushing the Houthis back, but the rebels still hold Hodeidah and the capital Sana’a.
After United Nations-backed talks collapsed in September, the coalition announced it was relaunching an assault on Hodeidah.
The fighting has since eased and Saudi-led forces have focused their raids on the city limits and other parts of the surrounding province.
But last week strikes in the province killed dozens of civilians, the U.N. said, as the Houthis blamed aerial bombardment by the Saudi-led coalition.
The coalition has drawn heavy global criticism for the high civilian death toll from its bombing campaign in Yemen.
Last month the U.N. Human Rights Council voted to extend an international investigation into alleged war crimes committed in Yemen despite resistance from Saudi Arabia and its allies.
The war has left almost 10,000 people dead since the coalition intervened, and sparked what the U.N. has labelled the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
In August, investigators detailed evidence of possible war crimes committed in Yemen by both the Saudi-backed coalition and the Houthi rebels.
The U.N. warned last week that 14 million people in Yemen now face a serious threat of famine.
With reporting from AFP