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Saudi Arabia still blocking Yemen aid despite pledge to reopen ports

Seven million Yemenis are completely dependent on humanitarian supplies for their survival [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 November, 2017

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The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has refused to allow aid deliveries to resume a day after it pledged to lift the siege on sea and airports, the UN said.

Saudi Arabia is still blocking aid from reaching Yemen, the United Nation's humanitarian agency said, despite pledging its coalition would lift the siege.

The UN said on Friday it had been cleared to resume passenger flights to Yemen's rebel-held Sanaa airport, but desperately needed aid deliveries remain blocked. 

The Arab coalition fighting Yemeni rebels announced on Wednesday it would allow the resumption of humanitarian deliveries to Sanaa airport and the crucial Red Sea port of Hodeida, after a more than two-week blockade following a Houthi missile attack on Riyadh.

But a spokesman for the UN's humanitarian affairs office said on Friday that Riyadh has not yet granted permission to resume aid deliveries.

"The UN has been notified through our usual contacts in Riyadh that the regular passenger flight operated by the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service can fly to Sanaa from Amman starting tomorrow," Jens Laerke said. 

"However, there has been no substantial change since yesterday regarding the requests for clearance to go by boat to Hodeida and Saleef seaports with humanitarian supplies," he added. 

Laerke said the UN was "encouraged" passenger flights had been approved but stressed the urgent need to restart aid deliveries, with the threat of widespread famine intensifying. 

A boat stocked with wheat and another with equipment to treat Yemen's cholera epidemic are ready to head to Hodeida once the UN gets the go-ahead, Laerke said. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross landed a passenger flight at Sanaa on Wednesday, spokesman Ewan Watson told AFP

Seven million Yemenis are completely dependent on humanitarian supplies for their survival, according to the UN. 

Allied with Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels control the capital Sanaa along with much of northern Yemen.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the Yemeni government's fight against the rebels.

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