Sweden calls on UN to demand halt to Hodeida offensive

Sweden calls on UN to demand halt to Hodeida offensive
The UN should call for an end to the UAE and Saudi-led offensive on the port of Hodeida, Sweden has said, which aid agencies fear could plunge Yemen into famine.
2 min read
14 June, 2018
Yemeni government forces are taking part in the assault on Hodeida [AFP]

Sweden called on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to demand an immediate halt to the Saudi and UAE-led offensive and bombardment of a key port in Yemen, to prevent a major humanitarian disaster from unfolding.

The UNSC is due to meet behind closed doors to discuss the Yemeni government assault on Hodeida - that began on Wednesday - which aid agencies warn could plunge Yemen into famine.

It follows repeated UN warnings about a potential humanitarian crisis if the assault on the Houthi-held Yemen port, where millions are on the brink of famine.

Hodeida has served as a key entry point for desperately needed aid for Yemen.

Sweden said an immediate freeze in fighting is essential to prevent disaster.

"It is time for the Security Council to call for an immediate freeze of the military attack on Hodeida," said Swedish Deputy Ambassador Carl Skau in a statement. 

"This is needed to give the special envoy and United Nations-led efforts a chance to avert disaster and find a sustainable political solution to the conflict."

The UK has requested urgent talks at the council - the second time this week that the council will be meeting on the crisis in Yemen.

Sweden, a non-permanent council member of the UN Security Council, is a strong voice on humanitarian issues.

The UN has warned that the UAE-led military operation on Hodeida could cripple deliveries of commercial goods and humanitarian aid to millions of people in Yemen.

Hodeida serves around 70 percent of the impoverished country's imports, but the coalition has led blockades on the port arguing it was being used to smuggle in weapons from Iran.

The UN envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is continuing to hold negotiations on keeping Hodeida open and has urged all sides to exercise restraint. 

On Monday, the UNSC did not demand Saudi Arabia and the UAE from attacking Hodeida.

More than 22 million people in Yemen are in need of aid, including 8.4 million who are at risk of starvation, according to the United Nations.

Yemen is considered to be the world's worst humanitarian crisis.