Mattis: US Has to Work With Saudis for Peace in Yemen

Aid group 85,000 children may have died of hunger in Yemen

A leading worldwide aid group said Wednesday that an estimated 85,000 Yemeni children under the age of five may have died of hunger and disease since the outbreak of the country's civil war in 2015.

"Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop", he said.

Peace talks aimed at ending the war in Yemen have been set for early December in Sweden, between Houthi rebels and the United Nations -recognized government, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday.

The goal of Griffiths's visit was to encourage the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels and government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition to remain calm ahead of the talks in Stockholm, the source said.

The fighting and a partial blockade by the coalition have also left 22 million people in need of humanitarian aid, created the world's largest food security emergency, and led to a cholera outbreak that has affected 1.2 million people.

Aid groups fear an all-out assault on the city, entry point for more than 80 percent of Yemen's food imports, would unleash starvation.

Last week, Griffith said that Yemen's parties had given "firm assurances" they are committed to attending peace talks to agree on a framework for peace under a transitional government.

In September, a previous round of UN-led peace talks faltered when the Huthis refused to travel to Geneva, accusing the world body of failing to guarantee their delegation's return to Sanaa or secure the evacuation of wounded rebels to Oman.

United Nations agencies say up to 14 million Yemenis are at risk of starvation if fighting closes the embattled port of Hodeida, a gateway for humanitarian aid.

When asked about the fighting, a pro-coalition Yemeni military source told Reuters that a ceasefire in Hodeidah would start only after the Security Council passed the resolution.

But military officials say intermittent clashes have continued to erupt in the Red Sea city of Hodeidah.

Just hours before Griffiths' planned visit, residents in the east of Hodeida said by telephone they could hear fighting, and reported shrapnel falling in residential neighborhoods.

Multiple past attempts to hold negotiations have failed. No date has been set.

The World Health Organisation says almost 10,000 people - mostly civilians - have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi intervention in March 2015, but rights groups believe the toll may be five times higher.

It also reported a "dramatic increase" in air strikes on the battleground city of Hodeida.

A year later, the coalition intervened as President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile.

UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Qarqash asserted that Saudi Arabia and UAE commitment to assisting Yemen and its people is a "historic" step.

Washington has been providing bombs and other weapons, as well as intelligence support, to the Saudi-led coalition backing Hadi, but recently ended its refueling support for Saudi warplanes.

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