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Urgent Talks Set at UN on Crisis in Yemen

By VOA News June 13, 2018

The U.N. Security Council holds urgent talks Thursday on the situation in Yemen, where the Saudi-led coalition is pounding the vital rebel-held port city of Hodeidah.

Britain called the meeting after one of its diplomats, Martin Griffiths, who is the U.N. special envoy to Yemen, urged all sides to "exercise restraint and engage with political efforts to spare Hodeida a military confrontation."

Saudi-led planes and warships began attacking rebel positions around Hodeidah early Wednesday after the rebels ignored a deadline imposed by the UAE to surrender the port.

The Houthis claim to have repelled a landing from the sea, a claim that has not been independently confirmed.

The UAE news agency said four Emirate soldiers have been killed in the fighting.

The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels control Hodeidah, the Yemeni capital of Sanaa and most of the more heavily populated areas of the country.

The coalition said the rebels have used Hodeidah to take deliveries of missiles that the Houthis have fired into Saudi Arabia.

The coalition said it has no interest in fighting a street-by-street war in Hodeidah for the sake of civilians, but wants to take back the sea and airport and keep the road to Sanaa open.

It is essential that the port of Hodeidah remains functional. About 70 percent of all humanitarian aid to Yemen arrives there, and aid workers have vowed to stay on the job.

Yemen is one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, with the country on the brink of famine. Fresh water, fuel and medicine are in severe short supply. A cholera epidemic has compounded the misery.

The Houthis took over the capital nearly four years ago, sending the Western-supported government of Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi fleeing into exile to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi airstrikes against the rebels began the following year and have obliterated entire neighborhoods, including hospitals. More than 10,000 people have been killed.

VOA's Chris Hannas contributed to this report.



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