'Very disappointed' United Nations chief urges Saudis to lift Yemen blockade

Aaron Brown
November 17, 2017

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen announced a suspension of border crossing via air, marine and land routes following a ballistic missile fired from Yemen targeting Saudi capital Riyadh on November 6. It says over 50,000 children are believed to have died in 2017.

The World Health Programme, World Food Programme and Unicef said the reopening of government-controlled air and sea ports this week was not sufficient.

"The space and access we need to deliver humanitarian assistance is being choked off, threatening the lives of millions of vulnerable children and families".

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused its regional rival Iran of supplying the missile but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denied arming the Houthis and said the attack was a "reaction" by Yemenis to coalition air strikes.

In another development, Daesh claimed responsibility for a vehicle bombing that security sources said killed 10 people, including civilians, at a security post in the government bastion of Aden on Tuesday. But the coalition has made little progress, and the rebels still control much of northern Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa.

In this August 15, 2015 photo, a Yemeni child stands at a door as she waits to receive a polio vaccination during a house-to-house polio immunization campaign in Sanaa, Yemen.

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"Even with a partial lifting of the blockade, the World Food Program estimates that an additional 3.2 million people will be pushed into hunger".

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.

"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. "If left untreated, 150,000 malnourished children could die within the coming months", the three major aid agencies said in their statement Thursday, significantly adding to the figure presented by Save the Children.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at United Nations headquarters in NY that without Sanaa airport and Hodeida and Salif seaports fully functioning and able to receive cargo, "the dire humanitarian situation will deteriorate further".

The fiery comments by Saleh al-Sammad, the head of the Presidency Council of the Houthis, came during a rally of thousands of rebel supporters marching down a main boulevard in the capital, Sanaa.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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