Houthi missile attack kills three in Saudi Arabia | News | DW | 09.06.2018
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Houthi missile attack kills three in Saudi Arabia

Three people in Saudi Arabia were killed in a Houthi missile attack. The International Committee of the Red Cross has evacuated staff from the port city of Hodeidah in anticipation of an assault by coalition forces.

A file photo of a missile launch from Houthi Rebels (Reuters/Houthi Military Media Unit)

File photo

A missile launched from Yemen by the Houthi movement killed three civilians in the south of Saudi Arabia on Saturday night, according to Saudi state media.

The three people were the province of Jizan in southern Saudi Arabia which borders Yemen.

Last month, the group fired a salvo of missiles at the Saudi capital Riyadh, saying it was targeting economic targets.

The Houthis, a group allied with Iran that controls much of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, have fired a series of missiles into the kingdom in recent months.

The more than three-year-old conflict in Yemen is widely seen as part of a proxy battle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

US backed Saudi coalition

A Saudi-led military coalition, which is backed by the US, is fighting against the Houthis on behalf of the government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi, who currently lives in exile in Riyadh.

On Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had pulled 71 international staff out of Yemen because of security incidents and threats, and moved them to Djibouti.

The aid agency called on all the warring sides in Yemen's three-year conflict to provide security guarantees so that it can keep running its medical, water, and food assistance programs. Those programs, said the agency, had been crippled by the partial evacuation.

Roughly 450 ICRC employees remain in Yemen, including dozens of expatriate staff, said spokeswoman Marie-Claire Feghali.

Assault expected

It has long been expected that an attack on the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah is imminent. A senior United Nations humanitarian official said on Friday, that the long-anticipated assault on Hodeidah by the Saudi-led coalition could cost up to 250,000 lives.

A coalition spokesman said on Tuesday that allied forces were 20 km (12 miles) from Houthi-held Hodeidah. However, he did not specify whether there were plans for an assault to seize the port, which is the chief entry point for food and supplies needed to ease the current famine and a cholera epidemic.

All of the humanitarian agencies working in Yemen are deeply worried by the likely impact of an assault. There are roughly 600,000 civilians who currently live in and around Hodeidah, which lies on Yemen's Red Sea coast.

"A military attack or siege on Hodeidah will impact hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians," the UN humanitarian coordinator in the country, Lise Grande, said in a statement.

"In a prolonged worst case, we fear that as many as 250,000 people may lose everything — even their lives."

World's worst humanitarian crisis

The UN says that Yemen is currently the world's worst humanitarian crisis and that 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid. At least 8.4 million are at risk of starvation, a number that will rise to 18 million this year if conditions do not improve.

Starving child in Yemen (Getty Images/AFP/A. Hyder)

Yemen is currently the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

Political sources in Yemen have said the UN Yemen mediator, Martin Griffiths, is in talks with the Houthis to hand over control of the port to the United Nations in an attempt to avert a possible assault.

The larger UN peace plan calls on the Houthi movement to relinquish its ballistic missiles in return for an end to the bombing campaign against it by the Saudi-led coalition and an agreement to create a transition government, according to a draft document and sources.

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Saudi Arabia intercepts Houthi missile fired on Riyadh

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