Yemen: UN calls for ceasefire on fifth day of fighting in Hodeidah

There has been recent escalation in fighting in many districts in Hodeidah

FILE PHOTO: Houthi militants ride on the back of a truck as they withdraw, part of a U.N.-sponsored peace agreement signed in Sweden, from the Red Sea city of Hodeidah, Yemen December 29, 2018. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad/File Photo
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The UN mission to support the Hodeidah agreement has urged parties in the area to halt fighting after what locals say is the biggest escalation in the Yemen conflict in two years.

The mission said on Monday that it was alarmed by the increase in fighting and urged an end to violence that could cause more human suffering and more losses in lives and destruction.

On Wednesday, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels pounded a food plant causing extensive damage, but no casualties were reported, Col Mamoon Al Mahjami, spokesman for Al Amalikah Brigades in Hodeidah, told The National.

“The Houthis' deliberate mortar attack caused huge fires to erupt in the plant.

"The flames destroyed three warehouses with all the equipment and the food stuffs stored in them."

In a country already struggling with widespread malnutrition, a hit on food production is a serious issue.

Many worry that the fragile agreed to in Stockholm talks may not hold.

This week, residents in areas of eastern Hodeidah city said the rebels had launched the biggest offensive since the agreement was signed in December 2018.

The Houthis attacked the joint forces around the centre of Al Duraihimi city in eastern Hodeidah, where Houthi commanders have been posted at residential blocks since 2018.

“Clashes fiercely erupted around the city and the Houthis pushed huge reinforcements and attacked the posts controlled by the joint forces with tanks and far-range artillery,” the resident said.

“Sunday’s attack was the biggest in two years. The clashes continued for 12 hours and both sides used tanks and artillery, which we haven’t seen for two years.”

On Monday, the Houthis launched two attacks on posts controlled by the pro-government forces in the eastern outskirts of the port city of Hodeidah.

The first was launched from Al Khamseen Street and another took place in the Kilo 16 area of eastern Hodeidah city, a commander in the joint forces said.

“As usual, the Houthi rebels violated the ceasefire and broke the Stockholm agreement," he said.

"They have been escalating on many fronts on the western coast in the past couple of weeks."