March 22, 2018

Yemen port, airport to reopen for aid delivery

24 November 2017, 01:28 | Rodolfo Wallace

Yemen port and airport 'opened for vital aid delivery'

Saudi Arabia eases blockade, reopens Yemen's Hudaydah port

The Saudi-led coalition imposed the blockade on Yemen in response to a missile assault targeting the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Hodeida, which is controlled by Houthi rebels backed by Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran, is a key conduit for much-needed food and medicine imports to Yemen.

Earlier, the coalition said in a statement that Iran was to blame for a recent Yemeni missile strike on Riyadh, which Iran dismissed categorically.

But the leading United Nations aid official for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, has told the ABC that no UN flights had been allowed to land in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Thursday and no aid ships permitted to dock at Hodeidah port.

"We're monitoring these developments", Haq told reporters in NY.

"If its just a small, short-term announcement of humanitarian aid being allowed in, that certainly will not be enough to avert starvation", she said.

The coalition had previously imposed a total blockade of Yemen's ports and airports days after a missile was sacked into Saudi Arabia on November 4.

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The coalition said it would reopen Hodeida port to receive "urgent humanitarian and relief materials" and Sanaa airport to United Nations aircraft from midday on Thursday (0900 GMT).

The UN says a continuation of the two-week blockade would make Yemen's war-battered population more vulnerable to cholera and starvation.

About 7 million people in Yemen - out of a population of 27 million - depend entirely on food aid and 4 million rely on aid groups for clean water. The announcement came after the coalition tightened a blockade November 6, in response to a missile fired toward the Saudi capital by Shiite rebels in Yemen.

The UN on Wednesday said it had been notified by the Saudi authorities of the reopening of the Yemeni ports of Hodeida and Saleef, as well as Sana'a airport.

The UN and global aid agencies have repeatedly urged the coalition to lift the Yemen blockade.

The International Rescue Committee on Wednesday said the closure of Yemeni ports by the Saudi-led coalition as part of its fight against Houthi rebels creates "humanitarian misery for millions of Yemenis". The missile was struck down but it was the farthest a projectile by the rebels, also known as Houthis, had penetrated into the kingdom.

Each week, the group said, 500 children join hundreds of thousands suffering from malnutrition.

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