Update on Yemen

Update on Yemen

Situated between the Suez Canal and the Bab al-Mandab strait, the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah plays a critical role in the delivery of aid.[1] Following the outbreak of fighting across Yemen, Houthi rebels seized control of Hodeidah in 2015. While the port city is still under Houthi control, it is also subject to the Saudi-led Coalition’s blockade, further limiting the influx of goods and aid. Following the launch of missiles into Saudi Arabia late last year, the port faced increased restrictions from the Coalition. This past week the Coalition made noticeable advances and on May 30, 2018 they were a mere 15 kilometers south of Hodeidah.[2] Following the Coalition’s advance, Houthi rebels fled north and withdrew weapons from the area.


With Coalition forces so close to the port, the question left to be answered is to what extent the Coalition will fight for control of Hodeidah city. Another question is what will the Coalition do with the port city, once they are able to seize it. A large military campaign promises the mass destruction of infrastructure, further disabling the transit of aid and exacerbating the loss of human life. A Coalition-held Hodeidah would increase their ability to retake Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, which now under Houthi control.[3] The city is the last remaining entry point for aid to reach the northern areas of the country of 22 million people in need of aid. Over 8 million Yemeni’s are on the verge of famine and over one million cases of cholera have been reported. The port at Hodeidah is the remaining lifeline to much of Yemeni society.[4] If the Coalition is to take control of the city, it is crucial they allow the flow of aid into the country’s interior.[5] Over the next coming days, the decisions made by the Coalition will not only impact the balance between Houthi and Coalition forces, but also the future of millions of Yemenis.


[1]Pike, John. “Bab Al-Mandab Strait.” Global Security www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/yemen/bab-al-mandab.htm.

[2]Al Jazeera. “Yemeni Forces Advance to within 20km of Houthi-Held Hodeidah.” Israeli–Palestinian Conflict | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 29 May 2018, www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/05/yemeni-forces-advance-20km-houthi-held-hodeidah-180529060457735.html.

[3]Bethan McKernan Beirut. “Battle for Hodeidah: How the Destruction of One Yemen Port Could Send Millions into Famine.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 30 May 2018, www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/ramadan-yemen-war-latest-hodeidah-port-famine-houthi-imports-un-a8374811.html.

[4]“Eastern Mediterranean Region.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.emro.who.int/pandemic-epidemic-diseases/cholera/outbreak-update-cholera-in-yemen-30-march-2018.html.

[5]Ryan, Missy. “U.S. Plan to Help Yemenis Obtain Humanitarian Aid Falters, amid Growing Food Crisis.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 15 Mar. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/03/15/u-s-plan-to-help-yemenis-obtain-humanitarian-aid-falters-amid-growing-food-crisis/?utm_term.