While the ceasefire in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah has allowed the UN time to try to negotiate a handover and avoid the bloody invasion of a vital aid port, aid groups are warning that the situation inside the city is worsening, and many are using the ceasefire as an opportunity to flee.
Saudi-led forces were in the process of invading Hodeidah when the ceasefire was agreed to. The Houthi rebels have agreed in principle to hand the port over to the UN, so it can keep being used to import aid into the country. Saudi-backed officials, however, have resisted that, saying they want a full Houthi surrender as a condition for the port handover.
This situation has dragged on for awhile, and aid workers say conditions in the city itself are “pathetic” as locals wait for a deal, or an invasion. Those who have the means have been escaping the city, many of them fleeing to uncertain conditions in the capital of Sanaa.
Fleeing the city isn’t necessarily safe, either. Defenses around the city involve a lot of land mines, and pro-Saudi forces have been conducting offensives in the areas outside the city. This is a lot of danger to face to escape to areas which have little access to humanitarian aid, and if Hodeidah falls, may have no access to food at all soon.