United Nations dismisses Saudi conditions to reopen Yemen port
United Nations dismisses Saudi conditions to reopen Yemen port
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne during a visit earlier this year to Saudi Arabia to promote the Australian defence industry
14 November, 2017, 18:55
An air raid by the Saudi-led military coalition put Yemeni airport in the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa out of service on Tuesday, jeopardizing relief shipments to a country on the brink of starvation, the state news agency SABA reported.
The severe shortages of food, medicines, and vital vaccines mean that Yemen is facing a large-scale humanitarian disaster in which the United Nations warns millions of people could die. The Hodeida port is held by rebels in Yemen.
The Saudi-led coalition said Monday it would reopen Yemen's ports closed after a ballistic missile attack by Yemen on Riyadh - but not ports in Houthi-control territory.
On Monday, thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of the capital Sanaa to protest the closure of the country's ports by the Saudi-led coalition. The humanitarian situation in the war-ravaged Yemen is now one of the deadliest in the world as starvation and lack of medical supplies leave millions at risk - the Saudi blockade of Yemen has added to the country's woes.
The strike "led to the total destruction of the VOR/DME radio navigation system, taking it offline and thus halting the only flights at Sanaa airport - those of the United Nations and other worldwide organisations delivering humanitarian assistance", the rebel-run General Authority for Civil Aviation said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the UN Abdallah al-Mouallimi told reporters in NY on Monday that ports in government-controlled areas such as Aden, Mukalla and Mocha will be reopened, but demanded more rigorous checks at the Red Sea port of Hodeida.
Jamie McGoldrick of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Tuesday the world body is aware of an announcement that the coalition was allowing deliveries to two ports in southern Yemen, AP reported. "The humanitarian impact of what is happening right now is unimaginable".
"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". He underscored that a United Nations verification and inspection mechanism is already in place and could work with the Saudi-led coalition on implementing strict procedure but Saudia has to open the port.
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