The Saudi-led coalition yesterday accused the Houthis and allied militias loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh of seizing a total of 34 aid vessels over a period of six months.
Saudi coalition spokesperson Major-General Ahmed Al-Assiri said the Houthi rebels seized the aid vessels, and accused them of blocking humanitarian supplies to the port of Al-Hudaydah.
“Aid to the port of Al-Hudaydah has been blocked for six months,” Assiri stated, adding that “Today there are no UN humanitarian personnel in Al-Hudaydah…who can inspect and supervise the distribution of aid and medical supplies.” He said the militia forces had intercepted 34 boats carrying aid “in the last 186 days.”
The Houthis have been in control of the Al-Hudaydah province, including the port, since October 2014. The port was seen as a threat to Saudi Arabian interests in the Red Sea, and was subjected to heavy bombardment which put it out of commission.
However, aid and other vessels can still be subjected to Houthi and Saleh militia rocket fire, increasing the risks faced by seafarers passing through the strategic sea route.
Yemen has been locked in a bitter battle between Iran-backed Shia Houthi fighters allied with forces loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh on one side, and government forces led by President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi along with local tribes and resistance forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes on the other.