By Safvan Allahverdi
WASHINGTON (AA) – The UN Security Council on Thursday demanded an urgent halt to a Saudi- and United Arab Emirates-led offensive in the Yemeni port city of Hudaydah, calling for the port to be kept open for humanitarian assistance.
The emergency closed-door meeting, requested by the UK, convened Thursday afternoon and marked the second time this week the council has met over what the UN describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia, who is also President of the Security Council for the month of June, said the council is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
Nebenzia also emphasized the council's demand that the Saudi- and UAE-led coalition keep Hudaydah port open because of its vital role in providing humanitarian aid to Yemeni civilians.
Sweden's deputy envoy to the UN Carl Skau also urged an immediate halt to the bombardment of the key port to prevent a major humanitarian disaster from unfolding.
The Saudi-led coalition forces on Wednesday launched a major military operation to recapture Hudaydah port from Shia Houthi rebels.
Impoverished Yemen has been wracked by conflict since 2014, when the Houthis overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies — who accuse the Houthis of serving as Iranian proxies — launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.
The ongoing violence has devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as one of “the worst humanitarian disasters in modern times”.