The Arab coalition launched a major military and humanitarian aid operation in Western Yemen in mid-June. The objective is to ensure the unimpeded supply of humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people by liberating the Red Sea port city of Hodeida from the Houthi rebels.
Under the authority of the legitimate Yemeni government, the Arab coalition force was spearheaded by the Yemeni National Army and local Yemeni resistance fighters, as well as military elements from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other nations.
The UAE and the Arab coalition continue to strongly support the efforts of Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, consistent with UN Security Council Resolutions.
The operations around Hodeida aim to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population, and to create conditions favourable to achieving a negotiated settlement by cutting off the supply of illicit arms that has fuelled the insurgency.
The Arab coalition’s most pressing concern is to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen. With rampant corruption and mismanagement while under the control of the Houthi rebels, Hodeida and other Red Sea ports have been operating far below capacity, severely limiting the flow of aid.
In keeping with UN Security Council Resolutions (2216, 2286), the Arab coalition is calling on the Houthi rebels to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, to ensure the safety of civilians, to ensure the respect and protection of all medical personnel and humanitarian personnel, and to facilitate the rapid, safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid to the civilian population.
The Arab coalition operations are part of a broader context to counter Iranian regional aggression by securing Hodeida, Yemen’s Red Sea coast and the Bab al Mandeb Strait to protect merchant and naval shipping from Iranian-enabled missile attacks and from mining by Houthi rebels. This is a growing danger that threatens freedom of navigation as well as the flow of commerce and humanitarian assistance through the region.
The Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) has begun emergency aid operations via air and sea relief bridges in Hodeidah.
The move follows directives of the UAE leadership and is in line with UAE foreign aid policy and emergency humanitarian aid response to the Yemeni people.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, chairman of the ERC, has reiterated the UAE’s commitment to its humanitarian responsibilities towards its brothers in Yemen.
Sheikh Hamdan said the UAE leadership’s move to establish an emergency relief bridge to Hodeidah will provide necessary humanitarian and food assistance to the governorate’s liberated areas.
The emergency relief bridge consists of six UAE vessels carrying 13,500 tonnes of food, as well as three flights carrying 10,436 food parcels.
An aid ship carrying 65,000 food parcels arrived in Yemen on June 10, benefiting 455,000 Yemenis, including 273,000 children and 91,000 women.
Reem bint Ibrahim al-Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, recently unveiled a comprehensive aid relief plan drafted by the Arab coalition to ensure the rapid delivery of humanitarian assistance to Hodeidah and its environs.
Mohammed Ateeq al-Falahi, ERC secretary-general, said that the aid authority has strategic stocks of relief materials in Yemen, estimated at 40,000 food parcels along with medicinal and medical supplies, as well as food supplements for women and children which will be distributed across liberated areas of Hodeidah.
UAE aid to Yemen between April 2015 and May 2018 reached 13.85 billion dirhams (Bt125 billion). The UAE has also pledged $500 million to support the UN Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen in 2018, of which so far has committed 93 per cent ($465 million) of the pledged amount.
Saif Alshamsi is the UAE’s ambassador to Thailand.