Senior Yemeni government officials have met with container terminal operator DP World to discuss bilateral collaboration and the restoration of operations at the government-controlled Port of Aden, which has been affected by the country’s ongoing conflict.
Yemen transport minister, Badr Mubarak Ba-Salma, led a delegation which spoke to Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of DP World, and other senior officials about rebuilding the country’s economy.
Sulayem said: “We are exploring areas where we can help our near neighbours in their initiatives to restore critical marine and trade infrastructure at Aden and look forward to developing our discussions in the immediate future.”
The Dubai-based firm stated: “A management team from DP World and Jebel Ali FreeZone (JAFZA) will visit Yemen next week to continue the dialogue, review developments in the country and establish areas where assistance can be provided for the benefit of the people of Yemen.”
War in Yemen between a Saudi-led coalition supporting the government and Houthi rebels has severely damaged the country’s transport infrastructure, at times closing down its two main ports, Aden and Hodeidah.
With Yemen 90% dependent on food and fuel imports, the charity Oxfam estimates that as many as 21m people, equivalent to 84% of the population, are in need of humanitarian aid. UN data states that Yemen received only 21,500 import containers between April and September.
A bulletin from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) at the end of September noted that the transport of cargo from Aden and Hodeidah ports to other parts of Yemen “remains challenging, as many road networks remain inaccessible or difficult to access due to damage and continued violence”.
This week, Reuters reported that Hodeidah, located in the north of the country where the Houthis are strongest, received its first ship in three weeks as Saudi Arabia denied obstructing aid supplies.
Coalition spokesman brigadier general Ahmed al-Asseri said: “We told the crude oil to go to Aden, to the refinery there. But for the rest, the refined fuel, plus the food and humanitarian aid, they can go to Hodeidah. We want this to go to the population. That is where our concern is.”
According to security advisors, Maritime Asset Security &Training (MAST), stated that Hodeidah and Saleef ports “have been without electricity for the last 55 days and are desperately in need of fuel”.
In August, the Port of Hodeidah was severely damaged by Saudi-coalition airstrikes, which Stephen O’Brien, the UN’s under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, described as a breach of humanitarian law.
As a result of the bombing, major international shipping lines including CMA CGM and MSC stopped calling at the port.
According to the UN OCHA, Hodeidah can currently handle bulk and containerised cargo from ships equipped with cranes to offload it. It added that an estimated US$87m is needed to replace the damaged cranes and deploy equipment to fully re-establish the port infrastructure.