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FIGHTING between Saudi-led coalition forces and Yemen’s Houthi rebels has flared up again today around the port city of Hodeidah despite United Nations calls for a ceasefire.
The escalation began late yesterday when coalition air strikes hit Houthis in and around Hodeidah, sparking violence in the city centre and in al-Saleh district.
The renewed fighting undermines latest UN efforts to end the three-year war, which has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed much of the country to the brink of starvation.
Yemen’s Information Minister Moammer al-Iryani accused the Houthis of shelling the city centre and neighbourhoods held by government forces, while rebel-run Al-Masirah TV said Houthis had attacked government forces on a main road to the capital Sanaa. Pro-government forces had captured the road in September.
The rebels also said they’d fired a ballistic missile the previous night into Saudi Arabia in response to an attempted border incursion and another air strike, reserving their right to respond to attacks.
This followed a rebel undertaking to halt all rocket fire into Saudi Arabia for the sake of peace efforts.
The coalition has been attempting to retake Hodeidah since last summer, with its forces now three miles from the port, through which much international emergency aid is delivered.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, whose military intervention accounts largely for the civilian suffering, pledged $500 million (about £390m) in aid to assist millions of Yemenis at risk of starvation shortly before resuming their offensive.
Abdullah al-Rabeeah, of King Salman’s Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, said in Riyadh that the new initiative would provide food assistance to 12 million Yemenis.
The cynical Saudi announcement follows days after UN World Food Programme head David Beasley visited Yemen before telling the UN security council that as many as 12 million of the 28 million Yemenis “are just one step away from famine.”
UN envoy Martin Griffiths announced on Friday that both sides had agreed to attend peace talks in Sweden “soon,” with Yemeni officials suggesting that talks would take place on November 29.
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