Saudi coalition OKs resumption of United Nations flights to Yemen

Nov 26, 2017, 01:07
Saudi coalition OKs resumption of United Nations flights to Yemen

Two planes carrying critically needed aid arrived Saturday in war-torn Yemen, among the first such aid to arrive since Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade of the country in early November.

The United Nations Security Council on November 9 called for the blockade to be lifted, warning that otherwise Yemen would face "the largest starvation the world has seen for decades".

"Humanitarian aid alone can not resolve the issue in Yemen right now", said International Rescue Committee director Paolo Cernuschi."It can not meet all the needs of the Yemeni population".

The Saudi-led coalition that has imposed an air, sea and land blockade on war-battered Yemen since November 6 has authorized the resumption of United Nations flights to the Yemeni capital starting Saturday, a United Nations aid official said.

The Saudi-led coalition spokesperson said that permits were issued for humanitarian aid naval shipments as well, however, officials at the port reported on Saturday that no ships have yet arrived.

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"We're of course encouraged by the clearance of this flight which may be followed soon by clearances of flights from Djibouti to Sanaa", Laerke told a news briefing on Friday.

"We look forward to additional steps that will facilitate the unfettered flow of humanitarian and commercial goods from all ports of entry to the points of need", the White House said in a statement.

"We are particularly talking about one ship which is offshore Hodeidah with wheat from WFP (the U.N. World Food Programme) and another boat which is waiting in Djibouti with cholera supplies and that is also destined for Hodeidah", he said.

"This will further increase the vulnerability of millions of Yemenis with limited access to clean water and threatens to reverse gains made in combating cholera", the United Nations aid agency OCHA added.

On Nov. 16, OCHA said the blocking of fuel imports would lead to the running out of petrol in local markets in 10 days.

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UNICEF is also waiting to send vaccines, aid sources said.

Critics had warned that the blockade could lead to thousands of otherwise preventable deaths but said today that the plane's arrival was not enough.

The coalition had said it would lift its blockade of the port from Thursday but it remains in place.

The missile was intercepted near Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport, sparking a war of words between Tehran and Riyadh, which accused Iran of "direct aggression" and supplying arms to the Houthis.

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