Up to 1.1 million barrels of oil could spill into the Red Sea causing a disaster four times worse than the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, the United Nations Security Council heard on Wednesday. The Yemeni-government owned tanker, FSO Safer, started taking on water in May. If its oil does spill it could cause irreversible damage to the Red Sea’s rich biodiversity, including coral reefs and mangroves.
Separatists in southern Yemen have declared self-rule, breaking a peace deal signed in November with the internationally recognized government. The Aden-based Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared a state of emergency, saying it would govern the port city and other southern provinces. The STC is supported by the United Arab Emirates. The Saudi-backed Yemeni government warned of “dangerous and catastrophic consequences”.
The Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has declared a two-week ceasefire in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the war-torn country, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA). SPA said the move was prompted by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for a pause of hostilities in the country in order to counter the spread of Covid-19.
The ceasefire between the Houthi rebels and pro-government forces in Yemen was broken just minutes after going into effect. Pro-government officials reported ongoing clashes. The truce went into effect at midnight on Tuesday in the port city of Hudaydah. The civil war which has lasted four years has pushed millions to the point of starvation.
As planned peace talks in Sweden approach, a UN plane will evacuate 50 Houthi militants from the rebel-controlled capital of Yemen, Sana’a, on Monday. The move is a ‘confidence-building measure’ according to a Saudi-led military coalition. The wounded Houthis will be taken to Muscat for treatment. The evacuation is a step forward in negotiation efforts.
An estimated 85,000 children under age 5 may have died of hunger and disease since the outbreak of Yemen’s civil war in 2015, an international aid group said Wednesday. Save the Children based its figures on mortality rates for untreated cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition, SAM, in young children. The U.N. says more than 1.3 million children have suffered from SAM since a Saudi-led coalition went to war with Yemen’s Houthi rebels in March 2015.
Britain, the US and France may be complicit in war crimes in Yemen by arming and providing support to a Saudi-led coalition that starves civilians as a war tactic, a United Nations report has said. The UN report will very likely be used as further evidence for those demanding that the British government end arms sales to Saudi for use in Yemen.
The first step in a long-delayed plan for a withdrawal of rebel forces from Yemen’s embattled Hodeida port has gone to plan, according to U.N. officials. The withdrawal process is crucial in allowing desperately needed humanitarian aid through the strategic port of Hodeida, which serves about 70% of Yemen’s population. Hodeida city has been under the control of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who overran Yemen’s internationally-recognized government in early 2015. The city was the target of a major Saudi and Emirati assault in mid-2018, an escalation of which the cease-fire agreement aimed to prevent.
Britain believes there is a chance for the civil war in Yemen to end and is pushing for a new United Nations resolution. The Yemeni port city of Hodeidah was attacked with almost 100 airstrikes over the weekend. UK foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt said the UK will use ‘all its influence’ to push for an end.
Save the Children charity warned that another one million children are at risk of famine in Yemen, reaching a total of 5.2 million. Food insecurity is due to rising prices of food and falling value of the Yemeni currency. Further threat comes from fighting surrounding the key port of Hudaydah, an entry point for aid.