The United Arab Emirates’ deadline for the UN to convince the Shi’ite Houthis to abandon the major Yemen port of Hodeidah has passed, and aid groups are being told to evacuate. The expectation is that a Saudi-led attack on the city will begin within a matter of days.
Yemeni forces, backed by Saudi and UAE forces, have been advancing on the port for weeks. Hodeidah is the lone port under rebel control, and imports about 70% of the food into Yemen. The fall of the port is expected to lead to mass starvation across northern Yemen.
After years of a war in stalemate, this famine is much of the point of the attack, as invading forces hope it will force the rebels to surrender, or at least severely damage their morale. The war has long done massive harm to civilians, and this is just a continuation of that on a higher scale.
The UN has been warning against the invasion on humanitarian grounds. They have engaged in talks which would’ve seen the rebels ceding the port to UN administration, keeping it open to aid and presumably immune from attack.
The US position on Hodeidah continue to shift wildly, however. Though some officials have said the US has been pushing the UAE not to attack the port, more recently the signs are that the US intends to have its military participate in the attack itself.