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YEMEN: Attack on Hodeida could put 170,000 children in the line of fire and kill any hope of peace talks


An estimated 340,000[1] people in Hodeida, half of them children, could be forcibly displaced should the Saudi-led Coalition (SLC) and anti-Houthi forces try to retake the vital port city. This major escalation in violence puts 170,000[2] children at risk of death or injury and could cause the biggest single displacement of people since 2015, pushing Yemen towards a full-blown and entirely man-made famine. Hodeida is a densely populated city and any attack will almost certainly result in a huge loss of civilian life.

Hodeida’s children are already some of the hardest hit by the conflict. In the three districts that make up Hodeida city more than 14,000[3] children are projected to suffer from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition this year. In the event of an attack on the port and subsequent increase in displacement and decrease in food imports, the number of children dying of hunger-related causes is likely to rise.

Tamer Kirolos, Yemen Country Director, Save the Children, says:

“There’s no respite for the children of Yemen. If they aren’t being killed or maimed by bombs and shelling, then extreme hunger or diseases like cholera and diphtheria are a constant threat. A major escalation in fighting in Hodeida to try and take the city and port will likely kill the prospect of any peace talks in the short-term and condemn the children of Yemen to yet more misery.”  

“The international community must bring its influence to bear to help prevent any further escalation of this conflict. These children trapped in Hodeida have nowhere to run or hide from the bombs that might fall on their homes and schools. We know from experience and evidence that when bombs are dropped in populated areas the vast majority of casualties are civilians, with children the most vulnerable. They will pay the heaviest price for this assault on their city and all the parties to this conflict will be to blame.”     



Spokespeople available.

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Bhanu Bhatnagar


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  • Home to Yemen’s biggest port, Hodeida is responsible for up to 80% of commercial imports and a vital life-line for humanitarian aid into the rest of the country. Importantly, it’s the only sea port that serves Houthi-controlled northern Yemen, where more than two-thirds of Yemenis live.
  • Today, 18 million people require emergency food assistance because they cannot feed themselves. Some 1.8 million children are suffering from acute malnutrition, of which nearly 500,000 children under five are severely malnourished and will die if they don’t receive urgent assistance.
  • Save the Children stopped using Hodeida port around a year ago and is importing all supplies through Aden to reduce the above-mentioned uncertainties and extended periods of delays. However, it takes between 2-3 weeks to transport goods from Aden to our Field Offices in the northern and central areas of the country. If Hodeida port was a viable option, food and aid could reach these families in a matter of days. Using Aden also incurs additional costs; custom clearance is more expensive, inland transportation costs 70% more, and warehousing is a 100% increase.


[1] https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemen-humanitarian-update-covering-22-28-may-2018-issue-17-enar

[2] Based on the assumption that approx. 50% of population is under 18 years, 340,000 / 2 = 170,000.

[3] According to the Yemen Nutrition Cluster the number of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) cases projected for 2018 in Al Hawak (5,266), Al Hali (6,363) and Al Mina (2,592) = 14,221.