Hodeidah's embattled civilians on a knife-edge as Security Council discusses Yemen

Houthi Shiite rebels inspect the rubble of the Republican Palace that was destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes in Sanaa Yemen

Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Wednesday paused their offensive aimed at taking the strategic port city of Hudaydah from the Houthi fighters.

In response to mounting worldwide pressure, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are ready to engage in UN peace talks mediated by UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.

Aid agencies say that the starvation conditions suffered by millions of civilians caught between the warring parties are tipping over into famine, with children now dying regularly of malnutrition.

Colonel Turki al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, would not confirm the halted offensive as a ceasefire, saying military operations will continue. Airstrikes by Saudi Arabia and its allies in Yemen are on a pace to kill more civilians in 2018 than previous year despite United States claims that the coalition is working to prevent such bloodshed, a database tracking violence shows.

"Britain has intervened twice since the start of the battle to liberate the West Coast six months ago, giving Houthis the chance to regroup, dig trenches and build networks in residential neighborhoods", Abssi said.

The new round of peace talks to end the war, which has killed more than 56,000 people according to a recent estimate, was initially scheduled to take place in November but had been pushed back to late December.

He welcomed a call last month by Jim Mattis, the U.S. defence secretary, and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, for a cessation of hostilities in Yemen and resumption of peace talks.

The spotlight has fallen on what many viewed as the long forgotten war in Yemen since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

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The UAE which forms part of the Saudi effort said it was looking forward to the peace talks.

The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital of Sanaa by the Iranian-backed Houthis, which toppled the government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

UN Envoy Martin Griffiths is expected to deliver his report on developments related to the humanitarian situation in Yemen during the UN special session today.

Turkey alleges the Saudis were responsible for his death and the U.S. announced Thursday it was imposing punitive sanctions on 17 Saudi officials who it said were responsible for or complicit in the killing.

The Security Council is set to discuss Yemen's conflict and the humanitarian crisis this evening (8pm United Kingdom time).

"This is not on the brink of catastrophe, this is a catastrophe", David Beasley told reporters.

Paul's original bill which sought to expand US punitive measures to Saudi Arabia's regional allies as merely displaying symbolic outrage at the Saudis for the sake of PR damage control, and not actually interesting in permanently ending the Saudi coalition's devastation of Yemen.

Beasley said the price of basic food staples in Yemen had doubled in the past eight months, even as household incomes shrunk.

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