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Saudi coalition OKs resumption of United Nations flights to Yemen

26 November 2017, 01:08 | Marta Robbins

Saudi Arabia eases blockade, reopens Yemen's Hudaydah port

UN Under Secretary to RT Saudi blockade of Yemen must be lifted for 'life-saving work' to continue

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.

Humanitarian aid deliveries have been resumed after Saudi authorities informed the UN on Friday that they would allow civilian flights operated by the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) to arrive in the Yemeni capital beginning Saturday.

The UN Children's Fund said Saturday's flight was carrying more than 15 tonnes, or 1.9 million doses, of vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and other preventable diseases.

The Sanaa airport officials have confirmed that two other humanitarian flights had landed in Yemen on Saturday.

"Sanaa airport was closed from November 6 until today, more than 18 days and this closure caused an obstruction to the presence of aid workers", Shayef told Reuters television in Sanaa.

Aid shipments of food and medicines to the rebel-held Red Sea port of Hodeida continue to be blocked by the coalition.

The airport had been open to only select humanitarian flights.

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Jens Laerke, spokesman of the United Nations humanitarian aid coordination agency OCHA, said on Friday that what really matters is that "we can get the ports in Hodeidah and Saleef open both for humanitarian aid and for commercial imports".

The U.S. -backed coalition closed air, land and sea access on November 6, in a move it said was to stop the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran.

Saudi Arabia controls much of the nation's operations, closing off access from sky, sea and land entry-points in response to a missile attack by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Saudi Arabia, according to the VOA.

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.

Sources in Washington said that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had asked Saudi Arabia to ease its blockade of Yemen before the kingdom chose to do so.

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

Airstrikes and ground fighting have left more than 10,000 people dead and driven 3 million from their homes since the coalition intervened in the war between forces loyal to President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Houthi rebels.



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