13 Jun 2018 - 15:41
Thousands of children at risk in Yemen’s Hudayda: NGO
By Ali Abo Rezeg / Anadolu
ANKARA: At least 300,000 children are stuck in the Yemeni city of Al-Hudayda amid a major military offensive by Saudi-led coalition forces to recapture the strategic port city from Houthi rebels, Save the Children warned Wednesday.
"An estimated 300,000 children stuck in Hodeidah city are at risk of being killed or maimed by the fighting,” Tamer Kirolos, Yemen Country Director of Save the Children, said in a statement, using his way of writing the name of the city.
"Families and children could be caught in the crossfire, unable to leave but in grave danger from bombs and bullets if they stay, trapped beyond the reach of humanitarian aid or medical care,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Saudi-led coalition forces launched a major military operation to recapture Al-Hudaydah from Shia Houthi rebels.
Al-Hudaydah port is a vital supply line through which as much as 80 percent of humanitarian aid to war-ravaged Yemen goes through.
The London-based NGO voiced concern that the strategic Yemeni port will be closed over the fighting.
"A famine is becoming a real possibility, with hundreds of thousands of lives at risk,” it warned. "The battle for Hodeidah will almost certainly result in a huge loss of civilian life and damage to vital infrastructure.”
The organization renewed calls for finding a diplomatic solution rather than military solution to the four-year conflict in Yemen.
"We feel despair for the children of Hodeidah who didn’t ask for this war. Time and again, the world has failed the children of Yemen, despite international efforts discouraging the warring parties from escalating a military confrontation.”
It called on warring rivals in Yemen to "respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and take all feasible precautions to protect children and their families.”
Impoverished Yemen has been wracked by violence since 2014, when the Houthis overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.
The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its allies -- who accuse the Houthis of serving as Iranian proxies -- launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.