Millions face starvation in Yemen as Saudi refuses to reopen Hodeideh port

by Garry Watts November 17, 2017, 0:24
Millions face starvation in Yemen as Saudi refuses to reopen Hodeideh port

It said Monday the coalition would lift the blockade after widespread worldwide criticism.

"While the Saudi-led military coalition has partially lifted the recent blockade of Yemen, closure of much of the country's air, sea and land ports is making an already catastrophic situation far worse", they said.

Saudi Arabia announced on Monday that the Coalition Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen would begin gradually reopening airports and seaports in Yemen, days after closing them over a Houthi ballistic attack on Riyadh.

But even before this blockade, Save the Children estimated that "50,000 malnourished children under the age of five [will] die from hunger or disease" in 2017.

"The space and access we need to deliver humanitarian assistance is being choked off, threatening the lives of millions of vulnerable children and families".

The war has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced 3 million.

For its part, Iran long has denied supplying any arms to Yemen, though it has backed the Houthis and highlighted the high civilian casualties from the Saudi-led coalition's campaign of airstrikes.

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The coalition intervened in Yemen two and a half years ago to try to oust the Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa, and restore President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government to power.

Adding to aid workers on the ground, stocks of diphtheria vaccines will be emptied in two weeks unless aid deliveries are once again allowed in the country, United Nations spokesman Farhan Haq said.

The U.N. says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has written to Saudi Arabia's U.N. ambassador saying the kingdom's failure to reopen key Yemen airports and sea ports is reversing humanitarian efforts to tackle the crisis in the impoverished country.

However, McGoldrick said earlier in the day that there was "no indication" the coalition was actually lifting the blockade in line with its announcement.

In the letter to Saudi Ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi, Guterres called on the coalition to allow United Nations flights to Sanaa and Aden, and to reopen the key ports of Hodeida and Saleef in rebel-held territory.

The government-controlled port of Aden has re-opened and Sanaa airport is operating for commercial flights, however this is inadequate as "needs are so huge", he said.

The fiery comments by Saleh al-Sammad, the head of the Presidency Council of the Houthis, came during a rally of thousands of rebel supporters marching down a main boulevard in the capital, Sanaa.


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