UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have announced a five-point aid plan for the city of Hodeidah and surrounding areas after a coalition of Arab countries led by Riyadh launched an offensive on the Houthi-controlled city.
Officials said at a news conference in Riyadh on Wednesday that the two countries were part of the plan to build a sea bridge to Hodeidah from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates and the southern city of Jazan.
Officials said the two countries would distribute food, provide medical supplies, equipment and hospital staff, support power plants and provide economic support.
“There are several ships stationed, and there are planes from the Emirates ready to go to the region as soon as the situation allows,” Reem al-Hashemi, secretary of state for international cooperation in the UAE, told Reuters in Riyadh.
Col. Turki al-Maliki, a coalition spokesman, told Saudi news channel Saudi Arabia that two aid ships from Saudi Arabia and the UAE were waiting in the waters near the port of Hodeidah.
The plan will be implemented by the King Salman Relief and Humanitarian Center in Saudi Arabia in cooperation with the UAE Red Crescent. The UAE minister told reporters that her country would use its military base in Eritrea to transport aid.
The attack on Hodeidah was the first attempt by coalition countries to wrest control of a major fortified city since it intervened three years ago to confront Iran-backed Houthis who control Yemen’s most populous region, including the capital, Sanaa.
The military operation, which began after the Houthi Emirates gave three days to withdraw from the city, foreshadows the worsening of the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis.
The alliance states that it will seek to continue the work of the port of Hodeidah and that it can mitigate the crisis once it controls the port, by lifting the import restrictions imposed on it.
But it has accused the Houthis of planting mines at the port, which could prolong efforts to ease the crisis.
“If the Houthis do not harm the port through its mines, we assure you that the coalition forces will not harm the port,” UAE ambassador to Britain Suleiman al-Mazrouei told the Abu Dhabi-based National newspaper.
“The information we have is that parts of this infrastructure are being mined.”
Reem Al Hashemi said that the UAE is preparing levers that can carry out a replacement in case of damage to the infrastructure in the port.
“Coalition forces have already begun to neutralize the mines planted by the Houthis on their way to Hodeidah,” Maliki told the news channel.