Heavy fighting on Yemen's west coast kills hundreds

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During his meeting with Yemen's new Foreign Minister Khaled Alyemany, Guterres stressed that "everyone should redouble efforts to find a political solution and avoid a fierce, bloody battle for Hodeida", UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Guards walk on the wreckage of a building destroyed by air strikes in Sanaa, Yemen.

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".

After briefing the Security Council on Monday, U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock told reporters that "if for any period Hodeidah were not to operate effectively the consequences in humanitarian terms would be catastrophic".

UAE forces are poised to attack the port of Hodeidah as early as Tuesday as part of their campaign with Saudi Arabia to defeat the Houthi rebels who have seized much of north Yemen. "We have dozens of United Nations staff still in Hodeidah", Lowcock added.

The United Nations has warned that up to 250,000 people were at risk if the coalition moves ahead with an all-out offensive to take the port, which is a major entry point for commercial supplies and aid.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said there are "intense negotiations" and his Yemen envoy is involved in shuttle diplomacy to stave off the attack.

The UN and aid agencies have pleaded with the Saudi-led force against an attack on Hodeida, warning that it could lead to mass civilian casualties and starvation. This offensive directly undermines stated United States government policy of preventing an attack on Hudaydah, supporting peace negotiations, and working to alleviate Yemen's humanitarian crisis.

Burt said: "The UN special envoy has previously expressed concern that conflicts in Hodeidah could take peace off the table "in a single stroke". United Nations staff operating out of the port ae already being withdrawn, anticipating the calamity to come.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday called on all parties "to honour their commitments to work with the UN". The United Nations says that Yemen is now the world's worst humanitarian crisis and that 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid.

More than 10,000 Yemenis have been killed since the war began, tens of thousands have been wounded, and another two million people have been displaced.

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