Yemeni officials are reporting 52 people were killed in the past five days as fighting in the vital aid port of Hodeidah has continued to escalate. The fighting is centering on the towns south of the port, where Saudi-backed forces are trying once again to seize the area.
The 52 slain included combatants and civilians, the first fighting in months in an area that is meant to be under a state of ceasefire, protecting a port that supplies 70% of Yemen’s humanitarian import, and is materially the only source of food for northern Yemen.
The ceasefire deals were meant to demilitarize Hodeidah, and give the locals control of the port. The deals on moving forces out of the area have often stalled, and this is one of the biggest escalations in months. Saudi-backed officials have believed control of the port is a blow to the Houthis, who depend on it for food.
This was a big part of why the UN tried to push a ceasefire, to prevent the Saudis from using food as a weapon. The current fighting probably isn’t enough to threaten the port itself, but could suggest a new escalation as the war continues to drag on with no signs of resolution.