The UN mission in Yemen’s port of Hodeida, which is held by the Iran-backed Houthi militia, expressed “great concern” on Tuesday over claims it was being militarized by the group, and demanded access for an inspection.
The United Nations Mission to Support the Hodeida Agreement (UNMHA) stated the port was vital for the impoverished country that has been ravaged by a seven-year war.
The Arab Coalition fighting alongside government forces accused the Houthis of militarizing the Red Sea ports and threatened to attack them, after the Houthis seized a United Arab Emirates-flagged ship last week.
“UNMHA reminds the parties that Hodeida ports are a crucial lifeline for millions of Yemeni people,” it wrote in a statement.
The coalition says the seized vessel, the Rwabee, was carrying medical supplies.
The hijacking on January 3 raised fears that the conflict could spill over into the Red Sea, a vital route for Gulf oil and cargo shipments.
“UNMHA has requested as part of its mandate to undertake an inspection,” the statement said, adding that protecting the ports was “in the interest of the Yemeni people.”
The internationally-recognized Yemeni government announced on Tuesday that its forces had taken over the Shabwa province after intense fighting with the Houthis.
The Arab Coalition announced on Monday that it had carried out 11 strikes against Houthi targets in Marib over 24 hours.
Shabwa is the third largest Yemeni province in area, and it is a pivotal province of particular importance to the south due to its geographical centrality.
Civil war erupted in Yemen in 2014, and the Arab Coalition intervened the following year.
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