Updated 26 April 2019
There have been no major changes to the status of Yemeni ports, or to the port entry clearance conditions, since the Hodeidah ceasefire agreement entered into force on 18 December 2018. However, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen continues to take its toll. With widespread outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and dengue, ships’ crew should follow strict hygiene standards and protect themselves from mosquito bites during port stays.
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Yemen crisis in numbers
“The humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains the worst in the world” says the WHO. In February 2019, an estimated 80% of the population – 24 million people – required some form of humanitarian or protection assistance. Approximately 70 000 people had been killed or injured since March 2015. At the same time, 50% of the country’s health facilities were closed or only partial functioning. For additional information, please refer to the WHO webpage Yemen Crisis.
The crisis in Yemen has also led to outbreaks of various epidemic and pandemic-prone diseases. According to the WHO, 1.3 million suspected cholera cases have been recorded in Yemen and at the time of writing, the country is also experiencing outbreaks of dengue and diphtheria. Gard’s correspondent, Gulf Agency Co. Ltd. (GAC), therefore advises ships’ crews to minimise their contact with the local environment, protect themselves from mosquito bites and keep food in hygienic places away from flies and other insects.
On 13 December 2018, the parties to the conflict in Yemen agreed to a ceasefire in the port city of Hodeidah (the “Stockholm Agreement”). The ceasefire entered into force on 18 December 2018 and the parties agreed to withdraw their troops from the city and for the port to be managed and monitored with UN support, which will enable the import of vital provisions to the country.
At the time of writing, the warring sides have still not withdrawn their troops from Hodeidah and its southern districts in accordance with the Stockholm Agreement. The security situation and corresponding security advice to vessels calling at Yemeni ports may therefore change at any time and vessels are advised to continuously evaluate the situation, carry out an assessment of the risks involved prior to entry, and take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the vessel and its crew.
According to information received from our correspondent GAC, the port situation in Yemen as at 26 April 2019 is as follows:
According to the correspondent, working ports are operating in a normal manner with no known security issues. The capacity of working ports may, however, be limited as there may be a lack of fuel supplies and other basic services. The correspondent also advice of the potential for cargo shortage/damage claims in Yemeni ports. All vessels attempting to enter Yemeni ports must also expect postponements and delays due the special entry conditions in force and multiple inspections carried out by the Saudi Arabian-led coalition. The situation is, however, subject to rapid change and Members and clients are advised to warn their vessels’ crews of the volatility of the situation and to carry out an assessment of the risks involved prior to entering or transiting Yemeni waters.
Port entry conditions
Shipping companies or owners shipping commercial goods or services to ports not under the direct control of the Government of Yemen must submit a request for clearance together with the required documents to the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM). The clearance application must be submitted upon departure from the port of origin of their cargo and at least five days prior to arrival at the port of destination in Yemen. All bilateral humanitarian assistance (bulk, break-bulk or containerized) destined for Yemen is also subject to UNVIM and must be transhipped through Djibouti port, the location of UNVIM’s Head Office, where it will be off-loaded and screened. For more details, please refer to the UNVIM website: https://www.vimye.org.
Vessels calling at ports that are under the control of the Government of Yemen must continue to apply for entry permissions through the Yemeni Ministry of Transportation using the form: Entry permission for commercial and relief ships to Yemeni ports. The form should be completed and sent by email to the Operations Unit of the Supreme Relief Committee at: email@example.com no less than a week before the vessel’s entry/arrival.
Entry to Yemeni territorial waters will be granted only following an inspection by the naval forces of Saudi Arabian-led coalition. Once a vessel reaches the outskirts of Bab-el-Mandeb, some 3nm from Yemen’s territorial waters, a notice of arrival must be called in by the Master on VHF channel 16. The naval forces of the Saudi Arabian-led coalition will then advice where the vessel should anchor pending completion of the inspection and approval of the port entry. Once the vessel is permitted to enter port, the Master must register the vessel’s arrival with the port authorities (on VHF Channel 14 or 16) and will then be assigned an anchoring position until the berthing time is confirmed by the Harbour Master.
Members and clients calling at Yemeni ports are advised to take note of the above vessel clearance procedures and clarify the security situation and the status of a port’s services well before arrival as availability of cranes, fuel, manpower, etc. may be limited. It is important to make frequent checks with local sources of information, e.g. vessel’s agent, Gard’s correspondent, etc., to obtain the most up to date and reliable security information available at any given time and assess the current security situation prior to entering Yemini waters. Information may also be obtained via Gulf Agency Co. Ltd.’s (GAC) website under “Hot Port News”.
The conflict in Yemen has also introduced additional maritime security threats, other than piracy, to the Southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb. These include collateral damage due to the conflict between local groups and a potentially deliberate targeting of vessels. We would therefore like to emphasise the importance of closely following the guidance provided by the Interim Guidance on Maritime Security in the Southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb and the BMP5 when operating in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden region. Vessels should register with the Maritime Security Center Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) and report to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), to ensure that the military is aware of their presence in the region, and use the Maritime Security Transit Corridor (MSTC), which is a military established corridor upon which naval forces focus their presence and surveillance efforts.
We would like to thank Gard’s correspondent Gulf Agency Co. Ltd. for their assistance in the preparation of this update.
Other Gard updates
Alert: New ‘one stop shop’ for maritime security advice of 28 June 2018
Alert: Yemen – new guidelines for threat assessments of 25 January 2018
Alert: New guidance for Red Sea/Gulf of Aden transits of 25 July 2017
Alert: US MARAD updates its Red Sea Security warning of 29 March 2017
Alert: Yemen and Red Sea security update of 30 January 2017
Alert: Red Sea security warning of 14 October 2016
Topic page: Piracy - Robbery or Illegal Violence at Sea
Topic page: Sanctions
The US International Port Security Program
In accordance with the latest Port Security Advisory (1-19) of 2 April 2019, the US Coast Guard (USCG) has determined that, with exception of Balhaf LNG Terminal, ports in Yemen are not maintaining effective anti-terrorism measures. The USCG has separate more stringent, security protocols in place for ships arriving to the US from Balhaf. Ships planning to arrive to the US from Balhaf should contact the relevant USCG Captain of the Port well in advance. However, at the time of writing, Balhaf Terminal is reported to be closed.
Under the US Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), the USCG is required to assess the effectiveness of antiterrorism measures implemented in foreign ports from which US documented vessels and foreign vessels depart on a voyage to the US and other foreign ports believed to pose a security risk to international maritime commerce. As ports with ineffective antiterrorism measures are identified, this information is published in the Federal Register and the USCG will impose conditions of entry on vessels arriving in the US that visited such ports as one of their last five ports of call. Under the conditions of entry, affected vessels must:
Any affected vessel that does not meet the stipulated conditions may be denied entry into the US.
The complete list of ports considered to have ineffective antiterrorism measures along with the associated conditions of entry are included in the policy notices available on the US Coast Guard website: International Port Security Programs