Al Mukalla: The Yemeni government is renovating the Mokha seaport in the province of Taiz in order to prepare it as an alterative entry point for humanitarian aid to enter the country ahead of an offensive by the Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni army troops on the Al Houthi-held Hodeida seaport on the Red Sea coast.
The state-run Saba news agency has quoted deputy minister of transportation, Nasser Sharef, as saying the restoration process is in full swing and the Mokha, Al Mukalla and Aden seaports will be ready to receive UN humanitarian aid soon.
The Yemeni government and the Saudi-led coalition have ratcheted up military pressure by threatening to storm Hodeida city after the Iran-backed Al Houthi rebel group used the city’s seaport to smuggle in arms from Iran.supplies.
Last month, the UN suggested it would use government-controlled ports to deliver vital humanitarian aid to war-torn areas.
In February, hundreds of government forces backed by intensive air strikes from Saudi-led coalition fighter jets pushed Al Houthi fighters from Mokha town, cutting off another major entry point for Iranian arms.
Meanwhile, George Khouri, the head of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Yemen, said that life in Mokha has returned to normal as most of residents who fled fighting between government forces and rebels have returned.
“Life is starting to come back to the streets. Markets are reopening. Residents told me 70 per cent of the population [has] already returned.” Khouri said on his official twitter feed.
Meanwhile, in the country’s north, fierce fighting broke out on Saturday when rebels staged a sneak attack on government forces in the city of Medi, in the Hajja province.
The Ministry of Defence said that as many as 30 Al Houthis and several government forces were killed in the fighting that subsided when government forces repelled the Al Houthi assault.
Government forces are currently surrounding many districts in Medi city where Al Houthi snipers are stationed.
If they take control of Medi, army commanders said, they would then move to the port city of Hodeida from the north.
Government forces that are battling Al Houthis near the Khokha region on the Red Sea would march towards Hodeida from the south.
In the city of Taiz, the state-run Saba news agency reported on Sunday that a woman was killed and three children were injured when a shell fired by Al Houthi rebels exploded inside their home in the densely populated Beir Basha district. Saba also said that 11 Al Houthi fighters were killed on Saturday in Taiz’s Salo district when government forces attacked their positions.