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article imageSaudi-led coalition sends thousands of troops towards Yemen port

By AFP     Oct 30, 2018 in World

The Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen has sent more than 10,000 new troops towards a vital rebel-held port city ahead of a new assault, Yemeni government officials said Tuesday.

The pro-government coalition deployed the reinforcements to the Red Sea coast ahead of a new offensive on Hodeida "within days", a military official told AFP.

He said they would also "secure areas liberated" from the Iran-linked Huthi rebels, and that forces from Sudan, part of the coalition, had moved in to "secure" areas around the city.

Huthi rebels have for the past 10 days been stationing fighters on rooftops of buildings in Hodeida city, government military officials told AFP.

The adjacent port is the entry point for more than 70 percent of imports to the impoverished country, which is teetering on the edge of famine.

More than 22 million Yemenis -- three quarters of the population -- are in need of humanitarian assistance.

People struggling to survive are also confronted with a collapsed economy, leaving government clerks without pay and state institutions practically crippled.

The newly appointed Yemeni prime minister said on Tuesday that the government was committed to improving the country's economic situation.

"It will focus on addressing the flaws in management and the economy... and on the flaws in state institutions," Moeen Abulmalik Saeed told the state-run Saba news agency on his first official visit to the government's de facto capital Aden.

The Yemeni riyal has lost more than two-thirds of its value against the dollar since 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the government's fight against the Huthi rebels.

The coalition has been waging an aerial bombing campaign in Yemen aimed at pushing the Huthis back, but the rebels still hold Hodeida and the capital Sanaa.

After UN-backed talks collapsed in September, the coalition announced it was relaunching an assault on Hodeida.

The fighting has since eased and Saudi-led forces have focused their raids on the city limits and other parts of the surrounding province.

But last week strikes in the province killed dozens of civilians, the United Nations said, as the Huthis blamed aerial bombardment by the Saudi-led coalition.

The coalition has drawn heavy global criticism for the high civilian death toll from its bombing campaign in Yemen.

The war has left almost 10,000 people dead since the coalition intervened, and sparked what the UN has labelled the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The world body warned last week that 14 million people in Yemen now face a serious threat of famine.

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