Saudi-led Coalition to Begin Allowing Aid Into Yemen

The aid blockade, put in place after the rebels fired a missile which was intercepted over Riyadh airport, has tightened the stranglehold on Hodeida, the conduit for UN-supervised deliveries of food and medicine to rebel-held territory.

The Saudi-led coalition's blockade of Yemen, which has cut off food imports to a population where 7 million people are on the brink of starvation, is "illegal collective punishment" of civilians, a prominent aid official said on Thursday.

The coalition has given clearance for U.N. flights in and out of Sanaa from Amman on Saturday, involving the regular rotation of aid workers, said Jens Laerke, spokesman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen has given the United Nations permission to resume flights of aid workers to the Houthi-controlled capital on Saturday, but not to dock ships loaded with wheat and medical supplies, a U.N. spokesman said.

Earlier Wednesday, two flights landed in Sanaa airport for the first time since the November 6 tightening of the blockade by the Saudi-led coalition.

A spokesman for the US-backed coalition said in a statement issued on Friday that 82 permits have been issued for global aid missions since November 4, both for the Sanaa airport and Hodeidah, the country's main port where some 80 per cent of food supplies enter.

The United States, she said, looks 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.

"There are more than 500 employees trapped either inside or outside being denied travel as well as 40 flights that were denied arrival at Sanaa airport", he added.

McGoldrick said that a flight carrying vaccines, sufficient to begin vaccinations of about one million children, is expected to land in Sanaa over the weekend.

The United States called on the global community to take the necessary steps to "hold the Iranian regime accountable for its repeated violations of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2216 (adopted in 2015) and UN resolution 2231 as the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps exploits the grave humanitarian crisis in Yemen to advance its regional ambitions".

The three-year civil war continues to rage in Yemen, where 10,000 have died and around 3 million people have been displaced.

The Saudi-led coalition is fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who seized control of Sana'a in late 2014 and have since taken over other parts of the impoverished country.

  • Tracy Klein