Control Arms calls on all states to immediately suspend arms transfers and military support to warring parties in the conflict in Yemen. The pending assault on the port city of Hodeidah, led by the UAE with air support from Saudi Arabia, would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences.

The Yemeni port city is densely populated and any attack will almost certainly result in a tremendous loss of civilian life. The attack could lead to the death of 250,000 people if a prolonged attack or siege ensues, according to UN emergency relief coordinator, Mark Lowcock. The UN estimates that 350,000 of Hodeidah’s 455,781 civilians could be forced to flee.

Our partner in Yemen, Radhya Almutawakel, Chairperson of the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, submitted the following statement:

“The military escalation in Hodeidah threatens the most important port of humanitarian relief and basic materials in Yemen and will exacerbate the suffering of millions of civilians served by this port. In addition, the military escalation by targeting one of the most densely populated cities in the country is nominating thousands of civilians to be victims of war scandals and fire. The international community must respond to the warnings of humanitarian organizations that demanded an end to an impending disaster.”

Starvation faces those remaining if the main ports of Hodeidah and neighbouring Saleef ports are cut off. The UAE ground forces backed by local forces and Saudi-led coalition airstrikes have made rapid advancements from the south of Yemen in the last week. Airstrikes have already occurred on Yemen’s port in recent days affecting the residents of the city, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

A member of the Yemeni forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition on the outskirts of Hodeidah. Photograph: Najeeb Almahboobi/EPA

On June 9, the UK’s Department for International Development notified aid agencies that the UAE gave the UN and their partners a 3-day grace period to leave the city of Hodeidah. Despite calls for states to act urgently and encourage all parties to the conflict to return to the negotiating table, the assault is planned to move forward.

On June 11, a statement from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated the desire and expectation from Emirati leaders to allow humanitarian aid and honour commitments to work with the UN Special Envoy and reach a political solution. However, the statement does not explicitly oppose the attack, despite overwhelming evidence of the possible humanitarian consequences. In addition to immediately ceasing the transfer of arms to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the US must outrightly condemn this planned attack.

French President Emmanuel Macron is due to speak with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Tuesday, June 12, expressing his concern, although France continues to supply the Saudi-led coalition with arms.

Control Arms Director Anna Macdonald said

“Yemeni civilians have suffered terribly in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as a result of the conflict. It is right for countries such as the UK and France to be pushing all warring parties to the negotiating table but at the same time they must stop supplying the very weapons that are fueling this devastating conflict. Given the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the widely-reported violations of international humanitarian law, it is both legally and morally indefensible for lethal military equipment to continue to be authorised for transfer there”.