Battles rock Yemen port city as United Nations warns of ‘living hell’

Battles rock Yemen port city as United Nations warns of ‘living hell’

Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries, is locked in a almost four-year-old war that pits Iran-aligned Houthi rebels against the government backed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the West.

The Houthi-affiliated Masirah television station reported that more than 60 airstrikes were launched by the Saudi-led coalition against the Kilo16 area and other surrounding areas in Hodeidah during the past hours.

"We clearly hear the sounds of explosions and see shining lights caused by shells across the city's entrances", a Hodeidah-based resident told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The regional director of the United Nations children's agency, Geert Cappelaere, said the warring sides in Yemen make it hard to deliver and distribute humanitarian aid to the country.

"Unfortunately, Amal is not the only Yemeni child suffering that fate", he told a news conference in Amman, Jordan.

On Wednesday, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths announced his commitment to bringing the warring Yemeni parties to the negotiation table within a month, stressing that dialogue remains the only path to reach an inclusive agreement in the country.

The appeal came as fighting intensified in the key rebel-held Red Sea port city of Hodeida, despite growing global pressure to end a conflict that has left the country on the brink of starvation.

The impoverished Arab country has been locked into a civil war since the Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels overran much of the country militarily and seized all northern provinces, including the capital Sanaa, in 2014.

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Three-quarters of Yemen's 29 million people are food insecure, 1.8 million children suffer from malnutrition and 400,000 children under age 5 are at risk of death from starvation. He says many families in Hodeida can not make it to hospitals because of airstrikes and shelling, or because they can not afford transportation.

A pro-government medical source said that mortar shells landed on residential areas and caused casualties among citizens.

Yemen's internationally recognised government On Thursday welcomed a call from the U.S. for peace in the conflict-torn country, state-run news agency Saba said.

The offer followed a surprise call by the United States for an end to the Yemen war, including air strikes by the coalition.

Hodeida port is the entry point for more than 70 percent of imports into the impoverished country, which is teetering on the edge of starvation.

He said both Yemeni government and Houthi rebel authorities are being uncooperative.

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the war in 2015 to bolster Yemeni president Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the rebels took over the capital Sanaa.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday had called for a halt to violence to pull Yemen back from the "precipice".

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