Yemen conflict sees ports abandoned

Gulf of Aden The Yemen’s ports of Hodeidah and Saleef are closed to vessels

Yemen’s ports of Hodeidah and Saleef have been left in limbo following a UN order for commercial ships to leave.

A UN agency said it has suspended issuance of new clearances for all ships heading to Yemen and said the measure is "temporarily" until further notice, according to Xinhua.

This follows a Saudi-led military coalition's pledge to close all transport avenues to stop the flow of arms to the Yemeni Houthi rebels from "Iran", said Xinhua.

UN order

Xinhua reported that a notice issued by the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM), stated: "We regret to inform you that due to the current security situation in Yemen including Yemen Red Sea ports, all vessels must immediately leave holding area (west of 042), anchorage and berth (Saleef and Hodeidah ports) and sail to any other port/position to ensure safety of crew, vessel and cargo."

Neil Davidson, senior analyst – ports and terminals at Drewry, told Port Strategy: “It's obviously an issue beyond the control of individual ports, and so there must be very little they can do apart from wait until the political and security situation improves.”

Iran denies arming the Houthi movement, which has fought a Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen's government since 2015.

Ports are targets

Saudi Arabia intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile over Riyadh on 4 November after it was launched from Yemen.

UN aid agencies have warned that any fighting in the ports would increase the country's humanitarian catastrophe.

Meanwhile, The Straits Times has reported that Shi'ite rebels in Yemen have threatened to attack ports and airports in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In April, Reuters reported that the Yemeni government and its Arab allies were preparing an assault on Hodeidah port.

The port of Hodeidah consists of eight berths to accommodate vessels up to a maximum draft of 32ft. It provides 11 sheds totalling 21000m2, 1m square metres of open storage and 300,000m2 for its container terminal.

The port of Saleef accepts vessels with a draft of up to 16m and has a single general cargo berth of 400m.

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