- Houthis have used control of Hodeidah port to block aid and smuggle Iranian weapons, says Saudi envoy
- Yemeni Human Rights Minister Mohammed Askar says the Yemeni government was determined to ensure the safety of civilians, that relief aid continues to reach them, and to provide a safe refuge for those who decide to leave the province for a safer area.
JEDDAH: The government of Yemen had no choice but to take military action to regain control of Hodeidah port, Yemeni Human Rights Minister Mohammed Askar said on Friday.
The decision was taken only after exercising restraint to allow UN envoys to find a peaceful solution, and agreeing to many initiatives to end the conflict. But this was impossible due to the obstinacy of the Iran-backed Houthi militias and their refusal to back down, he added.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, Askar stressed that if the port of Hodeidah remained under the control of the Houthis, who are using it to receive missiles and other weapons, the security and stability of Yemen and the region, as well as international shipping, would be in grave danger.
“The Yemeni government, supported by the Saudi-led coalition, decided to proceed with a military confrontation after it exhausted all means to persuade the Houthis to hand over the port in order to save the people of Hodeidah and guarantee the security of international navigation and corridors,” he said.
He added that the Yemeni government was determined to ensure the safety of civilians, that relief aid continues to reach them, and to provide a safe refuge for those who decide to leave the province for a safer area.
He asked humanitarian organizations to accept their moral and humanitarian responsibilities to help end the suffering of the people of Hodeidah.
He praised the humanitarian initiatives carried out by the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSRelief) and the Red Crescent Society of the UAE.
Also at the UNHCR meeting were the Saudi Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Abdul Aziz Al-Wasel; the UAE Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Obaid Salem Al-Zaabi; and Yemeni Ambassador to Geneva Ali Mohamed Majawar.
Al-Wasel said that the Houthi militias used their control of Hodeidah port to prevent humanitarian aid entering the province.
“They have also used the port to smuggle Iranian weapons, including the ballistic missiles they are firing at Saudi Arabia,” he added.
He said the liberation of the port of Hodeidah will contribute to an increase in humanitarian aid and commercial imports to the port and help bring all sides back to the negotiating table to reach a political solution.
Al-Wasel also pointed out that the Arab coalition has opened two land crossings at the southern Saudi borders, in Twal and Al-Khadra.
He also said KSRelief has played a vital role in helping the people of Yemen, implementing 262 projects worth more than $1.6 billion.
Al-Zaabi said that all the political efforts to find a solution had met obstruction from the Houthi militias.
“Liberating Hodeidah from the Houthis will help parties return to the negotiating table, will restore the course of the political process, will contribute to finding a long-term political solution for Yemen’s crisis, will guarantee the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 2216, 2204, 2201, and 2140, and will help Yemen’s legitimate government restore security and access to humanitarian aid,” he said.
“The coalition has secured humanitarian corridors before launching the military operations to maintain the flow of humanitarian assistance,” he said, pointing out that the Houthis refuse to leave the port and city because they need it to receive weapons, and because they wish to continue to block humanitarian aid.