Jamie McGoldrick, UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, speaks at a press conference in Sanaa, Yemen, on March 28, 2017. Jamie McGoldrick warned Tuesday against military escalation in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, stressing it as the most important port to deliver aid to the needed Yemeni civilians. (Xinhua/Mohammed Mohammed)
SANAA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- A top UN humanitarian official in Yemen warned Tuesday against military escalation in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, stressing it as the most important port to deliver aid to the needed Yemeni civilians.
Jamie McGoldrick, UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, said in a press conference here in the capital Sanaa on Tuesday that "in case of any military escalation in Hodeidah port city, the UN is searching for possible alternatives to deliver humanitarian aid to Yemenis in need, including using the southern port city of Aden."
McGoldrick's remarks signal a potential military escalation soon between Saudi-led military coalition backing the Yemeni exiled government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and their foe of Iranian-allied Shiite Houthi fighters backed by forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
It's also a sign of shifting in the fighting along the Yemeni Red Sea coast as ongoing battles between the warring forces have intensified over the past hours in nearby port city of Mokha, few miles to the south of Hodeidah.
McGoldrick has previously warned against any war escalation in the port and strongly condemned the destruction of five cranes in Hodeidah port that he said has forced dozens of vessels to line up offshore.
The UN has warned that at least 12 million Yemenis, roughly half the population, face the threat of famine and conditions are worsening.
In March 2015, Saudi Arabia led a mostly Arab military coalition to fight the dominant Houthi fighters, who seized most of northern Yemen including the capital Sanaa and Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.
The coalition announced its goal to restore power to the expelled but internationally recognized government of President Hadi.
Houthis ousted Hadi and seized control of northern Yemen in September 2014.
Two years on, the ground war and coalition airstrikes have killed more than 10,000 people, half of them civilians, and displaced over two millions, according to humanitarian agencies.