The “relief” plan announced by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to protect civilians living in Hodeidah as they attack the port city is an attempt by the Saudi-led coalition (SLC) coalition to draw attention away from the undue suffering the attack is causing. The port is absolutely critical to the survival of many innocent Yemenis, and 600,000 civilians living in the port city and surrounding areas  are in immediate danger. An attack on or disruption of operations of the port will be catastrophic.

Amanda Catanzano, senior director of policy and advocacy at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said,

“The biggest contribution the SLC could make to the humanitarian situation and protection of civilians is to immediately halt the offensive and engage in UN-led peace talks. This is the only way to ensure the safety of Hodeidah’s 600,000 residents and that the millions of Yemenis on the brink of starvation continue to receive life-saving aid and critical imports of food and fuel.

The so-called “relief” plan announced by the Arab coalition in Yemen must be seen for exactly what it is; a justification to launch an attack that will have catastrophic consequences. The modalities for the delivery of this plan are vague, and the plan alone will not address the underlying causes of conflict in Hodeidah nor the level of humanitarian need that will be created by a siege or attack on the port and the city itself.

The Hadi government, backed by this coalition, has been in control in Aden and other areas in southern Yemen for three years, yet, innocent Yemeni civilians living in these areas continue to suffer from a total lack of basic healthcare and critical life-saving services. The coalition has had plenty of time to rebuild healthcare services and jump start the economy in the south, but they chose to pour money into their war efforts instead. Healthcare services remain inaccessible to the majority of Yemenis in the south and businesses and shops remain shuttered. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have clearly not demonstrated the desire nor the capacity to priortize the well-being of Yemeni civlians, therefore, we have no reason to believe they will follow through on their plan to provide healthcare, food and economic recovery assistance to the people of Hodeidah.

To protect Yemeni civilians the coalition should stop the attack and work with aid agencies in Yemen to increase access and security. All parties to the conflict have violated international humanitarian law and all sides must pledge to work with humanitarian aid agencies to immediately ramp up service delivery for those affected by the conflict and launch life-saving aid for those injured in the fighting in Hodeidah.”

To learn more about the International Rescue Committee's work in Yemen, click here