UN calls for access to Yemeni port which coalition says is militarized by Houthis

The UN mission in the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, held by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia, on Tuesday expressed “great concern” over allegations that it was being militarized by the group and requested access for an inspection.

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The United Nations Mission to Support the Hodeidah Accord (UNMHA) said the port was vital for the impoverished country which was ravaged by a seven-year war.

The Arab coalition fighting alongside government forces accused the Houthis of militarizing Red Sea ports and threatened to attack them, after the Houthis seized a vessel flying the flag of the United Arab Emirates last week.

“UNMHA reminds the parties that the ports of Hodeidah are a crucial lifeline for millions of Yemenis,” she said in a statement.

The coalition says the seized ship, the Rwabee, was carrying medical supplies.

The January 3 hijacking raised fears that the conflict could spill over into the Red Sea, a vital route for Gulf oil and freight shipments.

“UNMHA has requested as part of its mandate to undertake an inspection,” the statement said, adding that the protection of the ports was “in the interest of the Yemeni people.”

The internationally renowned Yemeni government announced on Tuesday that its forces had taken control of Shabwa province after heavy fighting with the Houthis.

The Arab coalition said on Monday it had carried out 11 strikes against Houthi targets in Marib in 24 hours.

Shabwa is the third largest province in terms of area in Yemen, and it is a pivotal province of particular importance to the south due to its geographic location in the center of the country.

Civil war erupted in Yemen in 2014, and the Arab Coalition intervened the following year.

With AFP

Read more:

Yemeni forces take control of Shabwa province from Iran-backed Houthis

US condemns Houthi seizure of UAE-flagged vessel: threatens international trade

Around 125 Houthis killed in clashes near Marib, Yemen

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