SANAA, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Top United Nations officials paid visits to Yemen's Hodeidah on Tuesday, bringing about "relative calm" to the embattled Red Sea port city following a week of intensified fightings between government troops and Houthi rebels.
World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande visited parts of the port city on Tuesday afternoon to assess the humanitarian situation in the flashpoint city after weeks of deadly fighting, local media reported.
"Hunger is devastating Yemen. I am here this week to see the situation on the ground, and to once again add my voice to the outcry: this violence must stop. We cannot allow this suffering to continue," Beasley, who arrived in Yemen on Sunday, said on his Twitter account.
Most workers in the UN humanitarian agencies had left the city over the past days after the escalating fighting between the government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels reached the inner streets of the populated city.
The fighting eased on Tuesday, particularly after Monday's visit by British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt to Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital, where he met Saudi King Salman to discuss ceasefire in Yemen.
Hunt was quoted by Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV as saying that the kingdom agreed to allow the evacuation of 30 wounded Houthi fighters from Sanaa to Oman for treatment.
Hunt's remarks were considered as a sign of possible breakthrough in the Yemeni conflict.
However, the coalition spokesman, Turki al-Maliki, appeared at a press conference in Riyadh following Hunt's statement, vowing that the battle for capturing Hodeidah would continue.
"The offensive to liberate the port city will continue to prevent the rebels from threatening the international navigation in the Red Sea," al-Maliki said at a press conference in Riyadh, aired live by Al Arabiya.
Saudi Arabia is leading the Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after the Houthi rebels forced him into exile.
The battles for the control of Hodeidah have killed more than 30 people, including dozens of civilians, over the past few weeks. The UN aid agencies have recorded about 445,000 internally-displaced people who fled the escalating fighting in Hodeidah since June.
Meanwhile, the UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths said on Tuesday on his official Twitter account that he "highly appreciated" Hunt's recent visit and continuous support to give "a much needed push" towards the resumption of the political process in Yemen.
Griffiths welcomed reports of reduced hostilities in Hodeidah, saying the "de-escalation is a crucial step to prevent further humanitarian suffering, and to build a more enabling environment for the political process."
"The logistical preparations are under way for the upcoming round of consultations. We are in a position to move forward," Griffiths said.
Also on Tuesday, the Houthis reported the killing of eight "displaced passengers" escaping Hodeidah by a coalition airstrike on a bus traveling on the highway near the al-Jarrahi district in the afternoon.
However, neither the Houthis nor the Yemeni government made any statement on the temporary ceasefire in Hodeidah.
The Houthis-held Hodeidah port is a main entry point of about 30 percent of Yemen's commercial imports and UN humanitarian aid. The port was still operating normally.
The rebels seized the port city in late 2014 after they overran the northern parts of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
The government troops, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, have recaptured most coastal areas south of the port city since last July. The fighting has escalated in the city following the collapse of peacemaking efforts by the UN in Geneva on Sept. 8, as Houthi rebels refused to attend.
The Yemeni troops have advanced to near the city center in Hodeidah in the past few days, fighting with Houthi rebels from street to street.
Capturing the port city would be a major victory for the government since the civil war erupted four years ago, and could force the loser to sit down at the negotiation table.