Pro-Yemeni-government forces seized the entrance to Al-Hudaydah International Airport (HOD) during the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Friday, June 15, two days after the fighters launched their assault on the Houthi-controlled city, backed by Arab coalition airstrikes. Pro-government forces also reported that they were moving along a major thoroughfare toward the city's seaport. The Yemeni government, however, maintains that allied fighters are refraining from attacking the seaport, through which most of the country's humanitarian aid flows. Yemeni government officials and the UN's World Food Programme issued conflicting statements on Thursday, June 14, regarding whether the seaport has remained open.
Clashes took place in the Manzar neighborhood (near the airport) on Friday, forcing many residents in the area to flee to the city center. According to Emirati military sources, reinforcement troops are on standby in Eritrea to assist the operation. Additional fighting is expected between coalition-backed pro-government forces and Houthi rebel fighters in Al-Hudaydah in the coming days.
UN officials have stated that tens of thousands of people could be killed if the situation turns into a lengthy siege; the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has predicted that 200,000 people may be displaced by the fighting.
Yemen is engaged in a complex and deadly conflict, ongoing since Houthi rebels entered into a civil war with the Yemeni government, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, in 2015. The Saudi-led coalition has carried out thousands of airstrikes in Yemen since its intervention began. Hundreds of Yemeni civilians have been killed in the strikes, which have hit schools, hospitals, and markets, in addition to Houthi militant positions and personnel. In total, more than 10,000 Yemenis have died in the fighting and some 3 million have been displaced.
Due to poor security conditions, many Western governments strongly advise their citizens against all travel to Yemen. Travel to the country should only be considered with proper security protocols in place. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.