Saudi-led coalition deploys 10,000 troops to Yemen's Hodeida
More than 10,000 new Saudi-led coalition troops were deployed by the military alliance towards a vital rebel-held port city ahead of a new assault, Yemeni government officials said on Tuesday.
The pro-government coalition sent the reinforcements to the Red Sea coast ahead of a new offensive on Hodeida "within days", a military official told AFP.
He said they would also "secure areas liberated" from the 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 Hodeida 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 joined the government's fight against the Houthi rebels.
The coalition has been waging an aerial bombing campaign in Yemen aimed at pushing the Houthis back, but the rebels still hold Hodeida and the capital Sanaa.
After UN-backed talks collapsed in September, the coalition announced it was relaunching an assault on Hodeida.
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 United Nations 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.
The war has left more than 10,000 people dead since the coalition intervened, and sparked what the UN has labelled the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
The world body warned that 14 million people in Yemen now face a serious threat of famine.
Last week, Oxfam noted one civilian has been killed every three hours in fighting in Yemen since the beginning of August, with many more people succumbing to disease and hunger.
Between 1 August and 15 October, 575 civilians were killed in the fighting, including 136 children and 63 women, the charity said, citing data from the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project.
Under a triple threat of war, disease and hunger, there have been more than 1.1 million cases of cholera in the last 18 months, with over 2,000 of those proving fatal. And there have been over 100 deaths from diphtheria over a similar period.
"Every single life lost to this shameful conflict, be it through armed attacks, or through starvation and disease, should be an international outrage," Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam's Country Director in Yemen said.
"Backers of all the warring parties should realise that they are complicit in this man-made crisis. Governments must comply with all international legal obligations to do their utmost to prevent civilian casualties or damage to civilian infrastructure. The international community urgently needs to do everything it can to get all sides in this war to agree a ceasefire."
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