If the Yemeni port city of Al Hudaydah, which is controlled by the Houthi rebels, comes under attack, at least 400,000 people will flee the city, further complicating the under-resourced humanitarian response, the UN International Migration Agency (IOM) said Friday.
In March, according to media reports, the White House officials said that Washington and the Saudi-led coalition are considering to launch an attack on Al Hudaydah in order to oust the Houthi rebels. In response, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said that Moscow is against the attack as it does not adhere to the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2216 and will worsen the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
"A minimum of 400,000 people will flee the city eastwards, once Al Hudaydah is under attack …This is in addition to the already desperate situation of more than two million displaced people and their conflict-affected host communities. Even without this attack on Al Hudaydah, all emergency response in Yemen is facing huge difficulties of access, financial support and immense needs," Mohammed Abdiker, the IOM Director of Operations and Emergencies said, as quoted in the agency's statement.
The IOM is prepared to respond to the flow of displaced residents from Al Hudaydah city, however the resources, needed for the support of the people, may run out very fast and the organization is calling for an additional financial support.
"If all parties to the conflict do not come around the negotiation table to prevent further military escalation and end violence, humanitarian workers will not be able to continue to respond to increased needs, while helping those already greatly affected by the conflict. An attack on Al Hudaydah city will put all humanitarian organizations in a situation of prioritization in a country where every single person should be a priority," Abdiker added.
Yemen's civil war between the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Houthi movement backed by army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh erupted in March 2015. Shortly after the outbreak of the conflict, the Saudi-led coalition of mostly Persian Gulf countries launched airstrikes against the Houthis at Hadi's request.
The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) characterizes the situation in Yemen as "the largest humanitarian crisis in the world," with 18.8 million people in need of humanitarian or defense assistance, including 10.3 million who require immediate aid to save or sustain their lives.