UN urges Houthi, coalition talks as Hodeida crisis rages on
The UN on Monday called for the Yemeni government and the Houthis to begin talks to halt violence as fighting between the Saudi-led coalition - which backs the government - and the rebels intensifies in the coastal city of Hodeida.
Houthi rebels took control of a large area south of Hodeida on Friday, a key port where the warring sides agreed a ceasefire in 2018, after loyalist forces withdrew.
The new assault prompted the Saudi-led coalition to increase its attacks on areas south of the port city.
"The United Nations Mission in support of the Hodeida Agreement (UNMHA) notes that the withdrawal of the Joint Forces from Hodeida City, Al Durayhimi, Bayt al Faqih and parts of At Tuhayta districts and the subsequent takeover by Ansar Allah forces represents a major shift of the frontlines in the Hudaydah Governorate", the UNMHA said in a statement on Monday.
Ansar Allah is another name used in reference to the Houthi rebel group.
"These events warrant discussions between the parties of the Hodeida Agreement. UNMHA stands ready to facilitate those discussions within the framework of the Agreement and emphasises that sustainable peace can only be achieved by collective efforts."
The statement urged all parties to the conflict to protect citizens.
The Houthi advance on Hodeida caused widespread anger across Yemen with the UN estimating that at least 6,000 people were displaced.
The internationally recognised government led by exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi denied any knowledge of the withdrawal.
Hodeida is the main entry point for commercial goods and aid flows and a lifeline for millions facing starvation in what the UN describes as the world's biggest humanitarian crisis.
The coalition intervened militarily to prop up the Yemeni government in 2015 after the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa the year before.
Since the start of the conflict, tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced, precipitating what the UN has described as the "world's worst humanitarian crisis".