NEW YORK: The UN envoy to Yemen expressed concern at the Houthi militia’s militarization of ports in Hodeidah on Wednesday.
“The accusations of the militarization of the ports of Hodeidah are worrying and the threats of attacking them are equally disturbing given that these ports are a lifeline for many Yemenis,” Hans Grundberg said at a UN Security Council meeting.
The UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement “is closely monitoring the situation in the ports and has requested as part of its mandate to undertake an inspection,” Grundberg added.
The Swedish diplomat added that the restriction on people and goods throughout Yemen is a challenge and is harming the population.
“The continued imposition of road closures and checkpoints across the country, as well as the impediments to imports and the domestic distribution of goods essential for civilians, including fuel, is harming the population in unjustifiable ways,” Grundberg said.
The envoy also expressed concern about the Houthi seizure of the UAE-flagged ship Rwabee and the continued detention of UN staff members in Sanaa and Marib.
“The UN should have immediate access to these staff and be provided with official information pertaining to the arrests,” he said.
India’s ambassador to the UN T. S. Tirumurti said that seven Indian nationals are part of the crew on Rwabee and that the country is “deeply concerned for their wellbeing.”
He demanded that the Houthis immediately release the crew and the vessel, and said the militia is responsible for the safety of the crew until they are released.
The US’ ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield also called on the Houthis to immediately release the UAE-flagged ship and crew unharmed.
Grundberg also condemned increased Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia that have led to “civilian casualties and damages to civilian infrastructure.”
Other participants in the meeting including the permanent representatives of the UAE, India, Norway, Yemen, and China to the UN condemned cross-border Houthi attacks on the Kingdom.
The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen on Wednesday welcomed the UN’s decision to inspect the ports of Hodeidah to ensure that they are not being used militarily.
Hodeidah port is a landing station for foreign fighters and ballistic missiles, and the UN must ensure that foreign fighters do not enter the governorate and that weapons do not reach it, the coalition said.
The coalition warned that it would “act operationally for self-defense and for military necessity” if the militarization of the ports continues.
Later on Wednesday, the UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement said it had spoken to crew members of Rwabee.
“As part of its routine weekly patrol, (the UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement) visited Salif port and neighbouring areas this afternoon. The patrol team saw the RWABEE vessel from a distance and spoke to its crew members,” the mission said on Twitter