Friday, 17 November, 2017

Saudi Arabia to reopen Yemen's air and seaports within next 24 hours

UN says Saudi's closure of Yemen's seaports undoes progress in fight against famine and cholera Saudi Arabia to reopen Yemen's air and seaports within next 24 hours
Wilma Wheeler | 15 November, 2017, 00:55

Al-Mouallimi said the Saudi-led coalition wants tougher inspections at the port of Hodeida, which is controlled by Houthi Shiite rebels, because current United Nations -monitored inspections only check large ships, and "in the case of small and medium-size ships there is hardly any inspection that takes place in the port or anywhere else". The Saudi-led coalition said last week it had closed all air, land and seaports in Yemen to stem what it said was the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran. Their faces painted the colours of the Yemeni flag or in traditional dress, protesters marched to demand the end of a blockade on the country's ports, airports and border crossings, imposed last week by a Saudi-led military coalition battling the country's Huthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia announced Monday that the Saudi-led coalition fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen will begin reopening airports and seaports in the Arab world's poorest country, days after closing them over a rebel ballistic missile attack on Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia announced it shut down all ports after a November 4 ballistic missile attack on Riyadh near its global airport by the Shiite rebels known as Houthis. "The humanitarian impact of what is happening right now is unimaginable".

While coalition announcements about the availability of two ports in southern Yemen are "helpful", the key need is access to the rebel-held Red Sea ports of Salif and Hodeida, which are now inaccessible to United Nations aid shipments.

"The humanitarian aspect of this is something we need to address immediately because we can't have those ports closed or those airports closed while we wait for discussions on new (inspection) mandates to go ahead". According to the UN's aid coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, there was no time to wait for a new inspection system to be set up.

"The first step in this process will be taken within 24 hours and involves reopening all the ports in areas controlled by" Yemen's internationally recognized government, which the coalition backs, read the mission's statement. "Seven million people are already on the brink of starvation and the blockade will only bring them closer to it". Saudi Arabia is backing supporters of ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against rebels called the Houthis, who are backed by Iran and allied with militants supporting former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

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