Saudi-led coalition has eased blockade in Yemen: UN


UNITED NATIONS, Nov 28 (APP):The Saudi-led military coalition fighting has eased restrictions at Yemen’s main airport and two key ports, allowing the resumption of some humanitarian aid to the war-torn country after a three-week blockade, a senior United Nations official has said.
“We welcome the easing of the blockade, the partial lifting of it” but much more needs to be done,” Jamie McGoldrick, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, said on Monday, adding, “Ports must be fully open, especially Hudaydah, for commercial and humanitarian goods so that people can buy cheaper goods.”
“We must (…) increase the number of boats arriving at the port of Hudaydah,” otherwise prices will increase and “more and more people will suffer,” the official said.
McGoldrick went on to say that the UN was ready to participate in strengthening the cargo verification mechanism transiting through Hudaydah, a requirement of Riyadh.
“We have two teams ready,” but we “have not had an answer yet” from the Saudis for their visas, he said. The UN official once again raised the risk of famine, saying 95 out of 320 districts in Yemen were in a very difficult food situation.
Elsewhere in his remarks, McGoldrick recalled that the world body was trying to meet the needs of seven million Yemenis, who are facing an emergency humanitarian situation, but that the rest of the population depended “entirely on the commercial sector,” particularly for foodstuffs and the fuel.
Meanwhile, at UN Headquarters in New York, Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said three humanitarian flights landed and took off from Sanaa on Saturday, the first commercial cargo vessel docked in the port of Hodeida on Sunday, and a UN-chartered vessel docked at the port in Salif on Monday.
Despite the resumption, he warned that rapidly dwindling fuel stocks and the dire humanitarian situation are pushing at least 7 million people toward famine.
Dujarric said the commercial ship carried 5,500 metric tons of wheat flour and the UN-chartered vessel carried 25,000 metric tons of bulk wheat.
But, he stressed that “it is important that there is unimpeded access for both humanitarian and commercial cargo to enter Hodeida and Salif ports, including those carrying fuel.”
“Fuel is urgently required to operate generators for hospitals, water well pumps and sanitation units and to facilitate the trucking of drinking water and staple food” to some 21 million Yemenis who need humanitarian assistance, he said.
Dujarric said one of the flights Saturday delivered 1.9 million doses of diphtheria vaccines, enough to protect 600,000 children against whooping cough, tuberculosis, pneumonia and meningitis.
Earlier in the day, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, a group of Nobel peace laureates, had urged the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen to end the blockade on the Arab world’s poorest country, citing the hardships it has caused.
In a statement, the group said the blockade “rendered access to humanitarian assistance impossible for the people of Yemen” and “denies millions of vulnerable and innocent civilians access to food, fuel and medical supplies.”
The letter was signed by Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland, Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala, Jody Williams of the United States, Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen.