Yemen: fighting in Hodeida intensifies, 53 Houthis killed

A scene at the Misk Art festival in Riyadh

A scene at the Misk Art festival in Riyadh

The US and United Nations have called for a ceasefire and proposed to convene peace talks in Sweden to end Yemen's three-and-half years war.

The latest fighting comes a day after the Yemeni government said it welcomed efforts to restore peace following calls by key USA officials and the UN's envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths for warring parties to come to the table "within a month".

Clashes broke out in a strategic Yemeni port city and airstrikes pummeled the country's capital Friday, as the USA -backed Saudi-led coalition launched a fresh offensive in the Middle East's poorest country, two days after an American call for a cease-fire.

Fighting was focused around the airport, which the coalition failed to seize in a previous offensive, and also at the eastern entrance to the city and near a university that lies 4 km south of the port, which handles most of Yemen's imports.

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Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told several reporters Friday that Moscow has "been advocating for the early, immediate cessation of hostilities wherever - in and around Hodeida, elsewhere, because we believe in a political solution".

"All the mothers were telling me that they are simply missing that small amount of money to transport their children from their communities to the hospital", he said.

Despite overwhelming military superiority over the Iran-supported Houthi fighters, the Saudi-led coalition has been unable to dislodge the rebels for over three years now.

Nebenzia said there has been talk in the council about supporting the peace process. Without action, up to 14 million people - half of Yemen's population - could be at risk in the coming months, up from 8 million who are now facing starvation, said Guterres. The port is a key entry point for food and humanitarian aid, but the coalition says the Houthis also use it to import weapons.

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According to the United Nations, at least 10,000 people have been killed since the coalition entered the conflict.

The conflict in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country and home to an estimated 28 million people, began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Houthi rebels, who toppled the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

"Yemen today stands on a precipice", the UN Secretary-General warned.

"Figures, in fact, don't say a lot but are important because they call us all to realize how bad the situation is disastrous", he said.

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"First, violence must stop everywhere", said Guterres.

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