In preparation for planned UN consultations in Sweden in December, the UN envoy sought throughout November to advance a ceasefire, enact confidence building measures, and negotiate a potential UN role in managing Hodeidah port. Griffiths travelled to the port city on November 23, where he announced the “UN should now pursue actively and urgently detailed negotiations for a leading UN role in the Port.” The Hadi government repeated that it will not accept any arrangement that does not put the port back under its control. The battle for control of Hodeidah city escalated at the beginning of November, as part of a coordinated nationwide military escalation against the Houthis. Anti-Houthi forces made substantial territorial gains toward Hodeidah port, in what the spokesman of the Al-Amalika brigades said was an attempt to establish a siege around the city.
Meanwhile, in an effort to counter this escalation, on November 19 the UK presented to the Security Council a draft resolution calling “on all the parties to introduce a cessation of hostilities in Hodeidah governorate, to end all attacks on densely populated civilian areas across Yemen, and to cease all missile and UAV attacks.” Yet as its own deadline for a ceasefire ran out, the US sought to delay a vote on the resolution under apparent pressure from the coalition. Hundreds of people were killed in the fighting in Hodeidah city alone, and relief groups condemned the Houthis for militarizing health and relief facilities, having positioned snipers on a hospital rooftop and stationed military equipment beside humanitarian targets to shield them from attacks.
The riyal continued to gain significant value against the dollar throughout November. From a record low of around YER 820 to $1 at the beginning of October, the market rate fluctuated downwards and at one point in November dipped below YER 400. At the same time, however, the prospect of famine remains ever present: the WFP voiced concern over “a nearly 50 percent decrease in operations at Hodeidah port over the last two weeks,” which follows a 53 percent reduction in food imports in October compared to the previous month. The executive director of the WFP said preliminary estimates indicate about 3.6 million Yemenis have become “severely” food insecure in recent months, meaning that 12-14 million people are now “literally marching toward the brink of starvation.”
To read about all the major economic, humanitarian, political, and military developments that took place in Yemen throughout the month, access the full November 2018 issue of the Yemen Trend by clicking on the PDF icon below.