United Nations shuttle diplomacy aims to avert assault on vital Yemen port

3 Reported Killed in Missile Attack in Saudi Arabia

Clashes continue to escalate a few short miles from the major Yemeni aid port of al-Hodeidah, as Saudi-backed attackers continue to advance up the coast toward the city of 600,000 people, fighting the Shi'ite Houthi rebels.

Impoverished Yemen has been wracked by violence since 2014, when the Shia Houthi group overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

Wam quoted the governor of Al Hodeidah, Al Hassan Ali Taher, as saying: "Intensified preparations are under way, including [the movement] of heavy artillery and troops to push Houthis out of the city".

The U.N. Security Council, which was also briefed by Griffiths via video from Amman, strongly backed his efforts and Lowcock's and stressed again that "only negotiated settlement can bring the war to an end".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a statement, said the United States was closely monitoring the situation in near Yemen's main port city of Hodeidah and that he had spoken with Emirati leaders.

Workers inspect damage at the site of an air strike on the maintenance hub at the Hodeida port, Yemen May 27, 2018.

When asked about the three-day deadline to NGOs, Saudi-led coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki said at a news conference in Riyadh: "We are working through open and continuous channels with the United Nations envoy to give a chance for a political solution".

The Red Sea port is a lifeline for millions of people, handling most of the country's commercial imports and humanitarian aid supplies.

Hodeidah handled 90 percent of the nation's foodstuffs and the humanitarian aid flow before the war, and periodic Saudi blockades of the port since 2015 have heightened fears of starvation and compounded aid agencies' response to a deadly cholera outbreak a year ago.

The UN Security Council is conducting an urgent meeting over the expected assault on Yemen's Hodeidah.

"We are, at the present moment, in intense consultation", UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Monday. "We have dozens of United Nations staff still in Hudeidah", Lowcock said.

Assistance provided by King Salman Center for Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Aid (KSRelief) as part of the comprehensive humanitarian operations in Yemen have until Monday benefited 4,791,792 Yemeni citizens, he said.

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