File image. Buildings damaged by Saudi-led coalition air strikes on the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah on 20 January 2021 (Photo credit: Getty images).
On 20 January, the Saudi-led coalition carried out airstrikes on Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, killing at least 20 people and injuring scores of others.
Local media outlets reported that coalition warplanes hit several locations in the city, including a communication tower and a three-storey building that houses the headquarters of a telecommunications company.
The majority of the victims were children who were playing near the building grounds.
Reports also described planes flying continuously over the city after the bombing, causing panic among residents and delaying rescue operations due to fears of further strikes.
An internet traffic monitoring company, NetBlocks, reported that the airstrikes disrupted internet services across the country.
⚠️ Confirmed: #Yemen is in the midst of a nation-scale Internet blackout following airstrike on telecom building in #Hudaydah; real-time network data show collapse of connectivity on leading provider; incident ongoing ? pic.twitter.com/ZM77WdUpwm
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) January 21, 2022
The Saudi-led coalition has for weeks been threatening to attack the port city of Hodeidah. It claims that the Ansarallah movement is using the city’s port to launch attacks against Saudi-led coalition vessels in the Red Sea.
The Ansarallah movement has denied the accusation, and said the claims are an attempt by the coalition to justify its attacks on the port, which is the key entry point for essential goods and humanitarian aid.
The movement said UN officials carry out weekly inspections of the port, and have not reported any military elements on its premises.
On 11 January, the UN issued a statement warning that an attack on the port of Hodeidah would be catastrophic for the millions of Yemeni citizens who rely on goods and humanitarian aid arriving to the port.
— UN Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement (@UN_Hudaydah) January 11, 2022
Throughout its seven years of siege on Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition has frequently targeted public facilities, such as schools, airports, telecommunication towers, bridges, and water treatment facilities.
The attacks of the Saudi-led coalition target key public facilities, triggering the humanitarian crisis that has left millions of citizens on the verge of starvation. These types of attacks have also led to the high prevalence of waterborne diseases, such as typhoid and cholera.