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Humanitarian Aid Lands In Yemen After Three-Week Saudi Blockade

26 November 2017

Humanitarian aid workers arrived in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa yesterday, after a almost three week blockade by the Saudi-led military coalition, an official at the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said.

"First plane landed in Sana'a this morning with humanitarian aid workers", WFP's regional spokeswoman Abeer Etefa told Reuters in an email.

Worldwide aid groups have welcomed the decision to let humanitarian aid in, but said aid flights are not enough to avert a humanitarian crisis.

The Saudi Press Agency said on Tuesday that it would reopen Hodeidah port to receive "urgent humanitarian and relief materials" and Sanaa airport to United Nations aircraft from midday on Thursday (9am GMT), but did not specify if it would ease a blockade on commercial traffic.

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA also said on Friday saying that supplies of petrol and diesel are expected to run out in the coming week and the largest fuel importing companies will no longer be able to supply the consumer market.

Unicef, the UN's children's fund, said its flight was carrying 15 tonnes, or 1.9 million doses, of vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus and other diseases.

United Nations officials cautiously welcomed the decision and said they also expect the port of Salef also reopen.

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Millions in Yemen are at immediate risk if food aid and the supply of fuel for pumping clean water are interrupted, he said.

About 7 million people face starvation in Yemen and their survival is dependent on global assistance.

On November 6, Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on Yemen as a response to a missile launch from its territory in a bid to prevent the transfer of military goods to the Houthis, as the kingdom accused Iran of supplying Yemeni rebels with short-range ballistic missiles.

Facing global pressure, Saudi Arabia's permanent representative to the UN announced on November 13 that his nation would reopen government-controlled ports and airports within 24 hours to humanitarian shipments.

The coalition, which intervened in the Yemeni conflict on March 2015 to back the Sunni government of the Yemeni exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has said it is planning to give clearance to aid ships only, but has yet to say whether it will allow commercial imports to access the rebel-held sea ports.

The Yemen was has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced more than 2 million, caused a cholera epidemic that had affected almost 1 million people, and drove Yemen to the verge of starvation.

Humanitarian Aid Lands In Yemen After Three-Week Saudi Blockade