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UN scrambles to avert 'fierce bloody battle' for Yemen port

AFP  |  United Nations 

The mobilised today to a "fierce, bloody battle" for a key port in that provides a for food, medicine and other vital supplies.

UN met with Yemen's at in amid warnings that an attack on rebel-held Hodeida was imminent.

Guterres said his was locked in "intense negotiations" with Yemen's rebel Huthis, and the to find a "way to avoid the military confrontation in Hodeida." During his meeting with Yemen's new Khaled Alyemany, Guterres stressed that "everyone should redouble efforts to find a and avoid a fierce, bloody battle for Hodeida," UN said.

The pulled all of its international staff out of Hodeida early today.

For the past two weeks, government troops backed by the coalition have been closing in on Hodeida, which they claim is being used by Huthi rebels to smuggle weapons.

The met behind closed doors at Britain's request after told aid agencies on the ground that it had received a warning from the of an imminent attack.

The has warned that up to 250,000 people were at risk if the coalition moves ahead with an all-out offensive to take the port.

UN said an attack on Hodeida would be "catastrophic" and that aid agencies were hoping to "stay and deliver" in Yemen, which the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

relies on imports for 90 per cent of its food, and 70 percent of the imports transit through Hodeida, Lowcock told reporters after briefing the council.

Griffiths, who briefed the council by video conference from Amman, has revived a year-old plan to turn over to a neutral party, diplomats said.

Following the closed-door council meeting, Russian Vassily Nebenzia, who is council this month, called for de-escalation and said the top UN body would be "closely" following developments.

"We are hoping for the efforts of the to bring a positive resolution. We left it in his hands for the time being," Nebenzia told reporters.

The council did not specifically call on the coalition to refrain from attacking Hodeida and diplomats said there had been much discussion over the president's statement to the press.

US said he had spoken with Emirati leaders and urged them to work with the United Nations but his statement fell short of warning the coalition against launching an all-out offensive.

"I have spoken with Emirati leaders and made clear our desire to address their security concerns while preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and life-saving commercial imports," he said.

Griffiths is set to present on June 18 a new peace plan for Yemen, but he has warned that military action could derail that effort.

Eleven humanitarian aid agencies, including and the Children, separately urged British to threaten to cut off British support to the coalition if it attacks Hodeida.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, June 12 2018. 08:05 IST