Published: Fri, November 17, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Three UN agencies urge Saudi-led coalition to lift Yemen blockade

Three UN agencies urge Saudi-led coalition to lift Yemen blockade

The British Government is foolish to back Saudi Arabia, including with arms sales, while it is carrying out "clearly illegal acts" in Yemen, Liberal Democrat former leader Paddy Ashdown has said.

Sweden called for a meeting on the crisis a week ago after the military coalition shut down Yemen's sea and air ports as well as borders in response to a missile attack by the Huthi rebels near Riyadh.

A malnourished Yemeni child receives treatment at a hospital in the port city of Hodeida on November 05, 2017.

The humanitarian situation in the war-ravaged Yemen is now one of the deadliest in the world as starvation and lack of medical supplies leave millions at risk - the Saudi blockade of Yemen has added to the country's woes.

The U.N. aid coordinator called on the Saudi-led coalition to open all Yemen's seaports urgently on Tuesday, saying millions of lives were at risk. "The Secretary-General and his humanitarian team are heartbroken at the scenes we're seeing from Yemen", Dujarric told reporters.

Facing mounting criticism from human rights groups for the disastrous humanitarian consequences of not allowing medical and food aid into northern Yemen, Saudi Arabia has once again offered measures that made no attempt at actually easing the problems.

As of Wednesday, 29 vessels, with 300,000 tonnes of food and 192,000 tonnes of fuel, had been blocked, while United Nations ships carrying $10 million of health and nutrition supplies and 25,000 tonnes of wheat were waiting to berth at Hodeidah, according to another United Nations statement. "I think it poses a critical threat to the lives of millions who are already struggling to survive".

However, McGoldrick said earlier in the day that there was "no indication" the coalition was actually lifting the blockade in line with its announcement.

There is also the risk of a renewed flare-up in cholera, which was on the wane after the most explosive outbreak ever recorded - with over 900,000 cases and 2,200 deaths in the past six months.

"We have some 21 million people needing assistance and seven million of those are in famine-like conditions and rely completely on food aid", United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said. "Some estimates say fuel will only last in the country for 20 days because of the blockade and challenges of getting fuel into the country", Varkey said.

"We're very concerned about the attacks on... the airstrikes on Sana'a Airport".

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