United States warns UAE aid must flow through Yemen port

The UN chief said that Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths was shuttling between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi

The UN chief said that Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths was shuttling between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi

The Saudis and UAE believe that seizing Hodeidah will put both military and economic pressure on the Houthis to reenter peace talks, as well as reduce the militants' ability to attack Saudi Arabia.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, acknowledged the "humanitarian crisis" in Yemen and said he had met twice with Griffiths and also spoken to him by phone.

The letter comes after the United Nations and humanitarian groups reported over the weekend they were warned by the United Arab Emirates to evacuate Hodeida by Tuesday.

The United Nations says that Yemen is now the world's worst humanitarian crisis and that 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid.

Hodeidah is a critical point for nearly 80 percent of aid entering Yemen, which is in a situation the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

For the past two weeks, Yemen government troops backed by the coalition have been closing in on Hodeida, which they claim is being used by Huthi rebels to smuggle weapons.

The port handles most of the country's commercial imports and aid supplies to provide a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.

"We are hoping for the efforts of the special envoy to bring a positive resolution".

Yemen relies on imports for 90 percent of its food and 70 percent of those transit through Hodeidah, Lowcock said.

Yemeni officials say heavy fighting between pro-government forces and Shiite rebels has killed more than 600 people on both sides in recent days.

The UN and aid agencies have pleaded with the Saudi-led force against an attack on Hodeida, warning that it could lead to mass civilian casualties and starvation. "It is essential for him to be given the time that he needs to facilitate a negotiated solution that avoids conflict in the city and we support his efforts to do so".

Almost 10,000 people have been killed since the alliance launched its intervention in Yemen in March 2015, contributing to what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis. It has damaged Yemen's infrastructure, crippled its health system and pushed the Arab world's poorest country to the brink of starvation.

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