A military assault on Hodeidah will almost certainly have catastrophic humanitarian impact

The Al Hudaydah port is a major lifeline for Yemen, bringing in food and humanitarian assistance. (Photo: Giles Clarke/OCHA)

Sana’a, 8 June 2018 – Humanitarian agencies in Yemen are deeply worried by the likely impact of a possible military assault on the port city of Hodeidah. The UN and its partners estimate that as many as 600,000 civilians are currently living in and around Hodeidah.

“A military attack or siege on Hodeidah will impact hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians,” said Ms. Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. “Humanitarian organisations have rushed to develop a contingency plan. In a prolonged worst case, we fear that as many as 250,000 people may lose everything— even their lives.”

In addition to being one of Yemen’s most densely populated areas, Hodeidah is the single most important point of entry for the food and basic supplies needed to prevent famine and a recurrence of a cholera epidemic. Close to 70 percent of Yemen’s imports, including commercial and humanitarian goods, enter through the ports of Hodeidah and Saleef, just to the north of Hodeidah.

“Our top priority is helping to ensure the 22 million Yemenis who need some form of humanitarian aid and protection receive the assistance they need,” said Ms. Grande. “Cutting off imports through Hodeidah for any length of time will put Yemen’s population at extreme, unjustifiable risk.”

“Across the country, people are desperate for food, medical help and protection. This is why humanitarian organisations have dramatically ramped up the amount of assistance we are providing. Yemen is already the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. With so many lives at stake, absolutely everything has to be done by the parties to the conflict to protect civilians and ensure they have the assistance they need to survive,” said Ms. Grande.

The UN and partners are requesting USD 3 billion through the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan to support 22.2 million people in need. To date, USD 1.5 billion, half of resources necessary for the year, has been received.