France called on Wednesday for “a negotiated political solution” in Yemen, including in the strategic port of Al-Hudaydah, held by Houthi rebels, French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Saudi-led coalition forces on Wednesday launched a major military operation to recapture Yemeni port of Al-Hudaydah from Shia Houthi rebels.
Al-Hudaydah port is a vital supply line of humanitarian aid to Yemen. Impoverished Yemen has been wracked by violence since 2014, when the Houthi group overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.
“France recalls that only a negotiated political solution, including in Al-Hudaydah , will end the war in Yemen in a sustainable way and stop the deterioration of the security situation in this country,” read the statement.
“The port city of Al-Hudaydah is one of Yemen’s key gateways to bring commercial and humanitarian goods to the civilian population,” the statement added.
“The news on the ground convinces us of the need for the international community to pay special attention to the issue of humanitarian access”.
The French Foreign Ministry said that a humanitarian conference on Yemen planned by French presidency on 27 June in Paris would go ahead despite calls by several NGOs, including the Action Contre La Faim (ACF), to cancel it.
The NGOs said France, a major supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia, should “not continue supporting a party to the conflict that attacks Al-Hudaydah”.
The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies — who accuse the Houthis of serving as Iranian proxies — launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.
The ongoing violence has devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as one of “the worst humanitarian disasters in modern times”.