‘Partial removal of Saudi-led blockade of Yemen not enough’
A United Nations official says the re-opening of the port city of Aden and a land border crossing for dispatching humanitarian aid to Yemen is not enough as the Saudi-led coalition is still blocking desperately-needed UN aid deliveries to the impoverished country.
“Humanitarian movements into Yemen remain blocked,” Russell Geekie, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA), said on Friday.
“The reopening of the port in Aden is not enough. We need to see the blockade of all the ports lifted, especially Hudaydah, for both humanitarians and for commercial imports,” he added.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia announced that it was shutting down Yemen’s air, sea, and land borders, after Yemeni fighters targeted an international airport near the Saudi capital.
UN aid chief Mark Lowcock told the Security Council on Wednesday that unless the blockade is lifted, Yemen will face “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims.”
According to UN figures, 17 million Yemenis are in need of food, seven million of whom are at risk of famine.
Facing international outcry, the Saudi-led coalition reopened the port of Aden on Wednesday and opened the land crossing at Wadea on the Saudi-Yemen border.
Geekie said the reopening of the Wadea crossing did not affect UN operations as no aid has gone into Aden yet.
Yemeni media have cited the transport minister of the former Yemeni government, Murad al-Halimi, as saying that two airports in Aden and the southern city of Say’un would also reopen from Sunday, and flights to and from Amman and Cairo would resume.
UN aid agencies were delivering food and medicine through Hudaydah, Salif and Aden ports, before the Saudi-led coalition imposed the blockade.
“There can be no alternative for all these ports being fully functional and receiving commercial and humanitarian cargo,” Geekie said.
Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime.
More than 12,000 people have been killed since the onset of the campaign more than two-and-a-half years ago. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country’s infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.
Another 2,100 people have died of cholera since April as hospitals struggle to secure basic supplies across the country.