Oxfam today called on the UK government to throw its full diplomatic weight behind efforts to help prevent an attack on Hodeida port in Yemen. The agency called for it to do this both directly and through the UN.
At the weekend, Oxfam and other aid agencies were alerted to a planned attack on the city by the United Arab Emirates and Yemen government forces and told to leave within three days.
Hodeida is a key port that handles key imports of food, fuel and medicine. With more than 22 million people reliant of humanitarian aid and more than 8 million people one step away from famine, aid agencies have long warned of the humanitarian fall out of such an attack.
UN peace envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths has already said that this attack would "take peace off the table in a single stroke," and the UN has cited the worst-case scenario: 250,000 dead, with hundreds of thousands more affected.
Mark Goldring, Oxfam's Chief Executive said:
"The UK Government knows the humanitarian consequences of such an attack risks being catastrophic. It has warned against this action privately, and given the UK's strong links in the Middle East it has a chance to help stop this attack and avert a looming nightmare for Yemeni people.
"We appeal to the UK Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister to use their influence and publicly say they would reconsider their relations will any party that attacks or lays siege to the port Hodeida. They should also should call for a strong unequivocal UN Security Council resolution prohibiting an attack on the port backed by punitive sanctions for any party that does.
"Lives hang in the balance and the window for action is now a matter of days, if not hours."