Human rights minister: Houthis looting relief aid in Hodeidah

Arab coalition is granting thousands of aid vessels permission to dock in Hodeidah

Displaced Yemenis who fled battles in Hodeida collect water from a well in the northern district of Abs, under control by the Iranian-backed Huthi rebels in Hajjah province, on June 26, 2018. Hodeida port has been held by the Iran-backed Huthis since 2014, when the rebels drove the government out of the capital and seized control of territory across northern Yemen and the Red Sea coastline. / AFP / ESSA AHMED

Yemen’s minister of human rights said the Houthi rebels in the key port city of Hodeidah were looting relief aid to support their military operations.

Dr Mohammed Askar said on Monday in a televised interview that the Arab coalition fighting on behalf of the internationally-recognised government of Yemen was granting thousands of vessels permission to dock and unload imports in Hodeidah’s port.

Pro-government forces and the coalition — which includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE — launched an offensive on the city on June 13. The rebels had been using Hodeidah’s port to smuggle weapons provided by Iran.

“The [coalition’s] operations did not affect the lives of residents or cause a crisis in the city, but it is the Houthi militia that is responsible for creating such a crisis because it loots relief supplies and stores it to be used for its own military purposes,” said Dr Askar.


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He said that pro-government forces and the alliance are determined to recapture the city from the Iran-backed group.

“The international community seems to be helpless in persuading the Houthi militia to hand over the cities and return the arms it stole from Yemeni army depots back to the state,” said Dr Askar. “So the only option in this case is a military one.”

One resident in Hodeidah, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The National that all aid entering the city is handed over to the Houthis.

“The only aid we received was in Ramadan when they gave us baskets containing some food supplies, but we have not received anything since then,” the resident said.

“We continuously see trucks unloading food supplies and sent to stores controlled by the Houthis.”

Meanwhile, pro-government forces — backed by the UAE Armed Forces — secured the centre of Al Tuhayta district southeast of Hodeidah, a source with the Tihama Resistance told The National.

“They are gearing up to storm the city of Al Jarahi.”