It is already the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, and the situation in Yemen may be about to deteriorate even further.
A place the world has largely forgotten is on the brink of famine. Aid agencies are warning of an avoidable disaster and they are probably right.
An attack launched by the Saudi-led coalition on the Red Sea port city of Hodeida could unleash a terrible new and even more profound catastrophe.
Hodeida was captured by Iranian-backed rebels four years ago. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, along with other countries, formed a coalition to bring the government back to power.
The port is the entry point for 70% of the country’s imports. If it is crippled by fighting then Yemen could be pushed further towards widespread famine.
The immediate concern is for the 600,000 people who live in the area.
The United Nations says the consequences of this assault could be disastrous for 250,000 of them, who will either be displaced or worse.
There is little cause for optimism, despite assurances from Riyadh that the fighting will be swift and decisive.
Nothing has been straightforward so far in this brutally destructive war, which has raged largely in the shadows of the world’s media since it erupted in 2014.
Last month, forces backed by the UAE moved quickly up from the south, along the coastal road, stopping just a few miles from the outskirts of the city.
Sensing an advantage, they have now pushed into Hodeida under an umbrella of coalition air and naval strikes.
It is hoped the advance will break the stalemate that has locked the Iranian-backed Houthis and the Saudi-backed government forces on the battlefield for months.
The Saudi coalition accuses the Houthis, who it considers to be Yemen’s equivalent of Hezbollah, of using the port to bring in weapons from Iran, though this is denied.
By capturing Hodeida, they claim they can cut the group’s supply lines to the capital Sanaa and then force them to the negotiating table.
The theory is unlikely to become reality without a protracted fight, however.
This is the first time government forces have tried to enter and conquer such a heavily defended city.
In all probability, it is likely to be a bloodbath.