Saudi-led coalition to reopen critical aid route in Yemen

PUBLISHED Wed, November 22, 2017 - 1:20pm EST
18-month-old child suffering from severe malnutrition (Ali Ashwal/Save The Children)

The Saudi-led coalition which is fighting against the Houthi militia in Yemen says it will partially reopen the Port of Hodeida and Sanaa airport to allow the resumption of urgent humanitarian aid. Millions of people are facing famine.

The Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information said Wednesday that the coalition had decided to reopen the Port of Hodeida for urgent humanitarian and relief materials, while the airport in the Yemeni capital will be allowed to receive United Nations aircraft.

The decision will take effect at 12 p.m. local time on Thursday.

"The Coalition will also soon announce a comprehensive humanitarian operations plan that aims to provide assistance and relief to the Yemeni people, and to facilitate the delivery of food to all the governorates of Yemen," the ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the coalition has called on the United Nations to urgently send a team of experts to review and enhance the UN's inspection and verification mechanism to prevent the Houthi militia from smuggling missiles into Yemen and to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid.

The decision comes days after Save the Children warned that extreme hunger and disease in Yemen is killing an estimated 130 children every day. It said more than 50,000 children are expected to die this year, while the World Food Program said the number could be significantly higher if no action is taken.

The Saudi-led coalition imposed a blockade on November 5 to prevent the smuggling of weapons after a missile fired by Houthi fighters was shot down near the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The Port of Aden was allowed to reopen last week, but the Port of Hodeida - which is a critical point of entry for food and humanitarian assistance - had remained closed.

Yemen imports up to 90 percent of its daily needs, including fuel, and an estimated 7 million people across the war-torn country are now facing famine. Some 14.5 million people in Yemen have no access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, according to the UN.






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