Key ports for humanitarian shipments to Yemen remain closed

Posted November 15, 2017

On Monday, the coalition said it would reopen ports in areas held by allied forces and loosen restrictions it had raised after the firing of the missile, which was intercepted near Riyadh's global airport.

A top leader of Yemen's Shiite rebels who are at war with a Saudi-led military coalition is vowing retaliation against the oil-rich kingdom over its disastrous blockade of the war-torn country.

The conflict began in 2015 when the Houthis took over Yemen's capital of Sana'a and the Yemeni government. The north of the country, home to 78 percent of the population, had 20 days' stocks of diesel, crucial for pumping water and fighting cholera, and 10 days' stocks of gasoline, with no prospect of resupply soon, he said.

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He also said that the more the blockade tightens, the more the Houthis will develop their abilities to "respond to the assault of the enemy". "The humanitarian impact of what is happening right now is unimaginable", he said.

"This halted the only flights at Sanaa airport - those of the United Nations and other global organisations delivering humanitarian assistance", the rebel-run General Authority for Civil Aviation said.

A Yemenia airlines official said a flight took off from Cairo and landed in Aden on Tuesday before returning to the Egyptian capital.

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Seven million people are at risk of starvation in Yemen, according to the United Nations, and are relying nearly exclusively on aid to feed themselves.

So far, the only thing that putting the country on total lockdown has accomplished, according to the United Nations aid coordinator in Yemen, is "an already dire humanitarian situation". The coalition closed all Yemen air, land and seaports last week in response to a rebel ballistic missile attack on Riyadh.

The UN's aid coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said there was no time to wait for a new inspection system to be set up. More than two-thirds of the people in need and 80 per cent of all cholera cases in Yemen are closest to the two ports, which are both in rebel-held territory. More than 2,000 Yemenis have died in a cholera outbreak now affecting almost one million people, AFP reported.

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Saudi Arabia is backing supporters of ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against rebels called the Houthis, who are backed by Iran and allied with militants supporting former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. And landing aid there would also involve having to cross front lines to deliver it.