The Red Sea port of Hodeidah is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis (File) Image Credit: Reuters

For three years, Al Houthi terror militias have ignored the Stockholm Agreement, under which the Hodeida port’s administration was to be overseen by the United Nations’ Yemen mission.

The port, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis on the brink of starvation, has been used by Al Houthis for military purposes ever since the signing of the agreement in December 2018, whilst denying the UN any access to inspection as stipulated by the agreement.

The Saudi-led Arab Coalition has raised the issue with the UN repeatedly over the past three years. Evidence forwarded by the coalition indicated that the militia, which continues to control the capital Sana’a, regularly uses the port to produce and store arms. It also uses it as a launch pad for attacks by drones and missiles on other Yemeni cities as well as the border areas of Saudi Arabia.

Use for military purposes

On Tuesday, the UN finally stated the obvious. Its Yemen mission said it had “great concern” over the use of the port by Al Houthis for military purposes. “The United Nations Mission to Support the Hodeida Agreement (UNMHA) reminds the parties that Hodeida ports are a crucial lifeline for millions of Yemeni people,” the UN said in a statement.

The coalition and the US have also showed evidence that the port was being used by Iran to smuggle heavy weaponry to their proxy militia, Al Houthis. On Sunday, a UN report confirmed that Iran has regularly sent thousands of weapons to Yemen in violation of international resolution. These continuing shipments prolong the war and hinder UN efforts to end the conflict.

Many of these shipments were seized in the Arabian Sea by the United States navy. The UN report says the shipments that were seized by the US in the past few months include rocket launchers, machine guns and sniper rifles.

Attacks on maritime activities

The port is also being used to launch attacks on maritime activities in the Red Sea. The latest terror attack was last week’s hijacking of the UAE- flagged cargo ship, Rawabi, which was carrying medical supplies.

The UN has demanded access for inspection to ensure the port was being used as agreed upon three years ago — in the interests of the Yemeni people and streamline international aid’s operations.

Now that the UN has established the flagrant violation of Al Houthis and their sponsors, the question is: what next? How can the UN and the international community ensure that the interests of the Yemeni people are being served?

It is high time that the world helped free the Yemeni people from the tyranny of a terrorist group that has held millions of Yemenis hostage.