Yemen’s Hodeidah residents see very little hope of peace

Residents say that the Houthi rebels have been stopping pedestrians as well as motorists and searching their vehicles in Hodeidah.
Thursday 28/02/2019
A soldier with a military coalition in Yemen backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates standing guard at a damaged warehouse of Yemen’s Red Sea mills company in the port city of Hodeidah. (AFP)
A soldier with a military coalition in Yemen backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates standing guard at a damaged warehouse of Yemen’s Red Sea mills company in the port city of Hodeidah. (AFP)

LONDON - Residents in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah see very little chance for peace, despite the United Nations regaining control of a grains facility in the city it hoped would boost its aid activities on the ground.

Since last September, The UN has been trying to reach the Red Sea Mills, carrying grain estimated to feed 3.7 million people for a month, in a government-controlled area near the city, just metres away from where Houthi rebels are stationed.

“There is no hope as long as we can hear the sound of gunfire,” 26-year-old Eman, a Hodeidah resident, told Agence France-Presse.

“Yes, reaching the mills seems like an important step,” Eman said. “But we hope that this momentum continues and it is not just a ‘failed’ step.”

On February 26 in Geneva during a donor conference for the war-torn country, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced that the UN had finally gained access to the Red Sea Mills

According to AFP, residents say that the Houthi rebels, who have been in control of the strategic port city since 2014, have been stopping pedestrians as well as motorists and searching their vehicles.

“I expect that the humanitarian situation will change a little and aid will reach some citizens, but I don’t think there will be major change to the current situation,” said 40-year-old bus driver, Hani.

“The fighting never stopped in the first place,” he added.

Yemen has been embroiled in a stalemated war pitting a Saudi-led coalition against Iran-backed rebels, known as Houthis, since March 2015.

The conflict has created what the UN describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with about 24 million Yemenis — more than three-quarters of the country’s population — now dependent on some form of aid for survival.

Ten million are one step away from famine, according to the UN.

Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi has responded to developments in Hodeidah, saying that efforts to resolve the Yemeni conflict must address underlying issues.

“A comprehensive solution to the situation in Yemen cannot succeed unless it looks at the root of the problem and its real causes,” Hadi tweeted.

Despite sporadic pockets of fighting, the Hodeidah truce, which came into effect around mid-December, has largely held. However, a January 7 deadline for the warring parties to withdraw from the port has been missed because of what the UN Yemen envoy called a “complex situation on the ground.”