42 permits granted for ships and relief planes to Yemen

Posted November 26, 2017

In a joint statement on November 16, the heads of Unicef, World Food Programme and the World Health Organisation warned that "more than 20 million people, including over 11 million children, are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance".

Global 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-led Arab coalition fighting Yemeni rebels announced yesterday that 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 missile attack on Riyadh.

McGoldrick said that a flight carrying vaccines, sufficient to begin vaccinations of about one million children, is expected to land in Sanaa over the weekend. "So, if the ports do not re-open across the board for humanitarian and commercial shipments, we really are looking at a catastrophic deterioration of the situation and creating a humanitarian crisis of proportions that I think we've not seen in our lifetimes", he said.

The coalition has been facing escalating criticisms from senior United Nations officials and humanitarian agencies who expressed mounting concerns over already worsening humanitarian catastrophes in the war-torn Arab country which largely depends on humanitarian aid supplies and food imports.

The Sanaa airport officials have confirmed that two other humanitarian flights had landed in Yemen on Saturday.

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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.

Sources in Washington said that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had asked Saudi Arabia to ease its blockade of Yemen before the kingdom made a decision to do so.

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 heads of three United Nations agencies had earlier urged the Saudi-led military coalition to lift the blockade, warning that "untold thousands" would die if it stayed in place.

The three-year civil war continues to rage in Yemen, where 10,000 have died and around 3 million people have been displaced.