(In March 21 item, corrects attribution in paragraph 4)
UNITED NATIONS, March 21 The warring parties in
Yemen are responsible for the protection of civilians and
infrastructure and not others, the United Nations said on
Tuesday in response to a Saudi-led military coalition calling
for the U.N. to supervise a strategic port.
The coalition, which has been fighting Iran-allied Houthi
rebels and troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh
since 2015, on Sunday proposed that the U.N. monitor Hodeidah
port after an attack on a boatload of Somali refugees killed 42
"Parties to the conflict have a clear responsibility to
protect civilian infrastructure and fundamentally to protect
civilians. These are not obligations they can shift to others,"
U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.
The refugees had departed Hodeidah en route to Sudan on
Friday when they came under fire in an incident that aid workers
said had involved a helicopter. The Saudi-led coalition denied
responsibility for the attack.
The Red Sea port near the Bab al-Mandab strait is under the
control of Yemen's armed Houthi movement. The Bab al-Mandab is a
strategic waterway through which nearly 4 million barrels of oil
are shipped daily.
Haq said that with Yemen almost entirely dependent on
importing food and other commodities it was "essential that all
parties to the conflict facilitate unhindered access to Yemen's
ports for humanitarian and commercial cargo, including Hodeidah
port, which serves 70 percent of Yemen's affected population."
Hodeidah is part of a broad battlefront where forces loyal
to Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, backed by the
Saudi-led coalition, are fighting the Houthi movement, which
controls most of northern and western Yemen.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool)