Coalition to Gradually Reopen Yemen's Seaports, Airports

Posted November 15, 2017

The Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen shut down the country's land, sea and air borders a week ago in response to a missile attack by the Iran-backed Houthis that was intercepted near Riyadh.

The United Nations has warned a total blockade could cause starvation in Yemen, where war has killed at least 10,000 people in the last two and a half years.

The strike comes just a day after Saudi ambassador to the UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi agreed to reopen some ports to allow aid in.

An air raid by the Saudi-led military coalition put Yemeni airport in the Houthi-controlled capital Sana'a out of service today, jeopardising relief shipments to a country on the brink of starvation, the state news agency SABA reported. "The continued closure by the Saudi-led coalition of critical seaports and airports is aggravating an already dire humanitarian situation".

On Monday Saudi agreed to reopen ports in government controlled areas, but demanded extra security measures be put in place around the rebel controlled port of Hodeida.

Despite the Saudi announcement, a top leader of Yemen's Shiite rebels on Monday vowed retaliation against the oil-rich kingdom over its blockade of his war-torn country.

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"The humanitarian impact of what is happening here right now is unimaginable", he told reporters in Geneva in a phone conference.

"Simply because it shares a border with Yemen, Saudi Arabia has used the full leverage offered by United States and UK military support to tighten a blockade on Yemen and hinder efforts to send humanitarian aid, causing severe food shortage and lack of medical supplies".

A statement issued by the Coalition on Monday said it hopes the United Nations teams of experts would prevent "the smuggling of weapons, ammunitions, missile parts and cash that are regularly being supplied by Iran and Iranian accomplices to the Houthi rebels".

Saudi Arabia and the USA have accused Iran of supplying the ballistic missile used in that attack. 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.

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 2,000 Yemenis have died in a cholera outbreak now affecting almost one million people, AFP reported.