Yemen's civilians pay price of Saudi-led blockade

Violet Powell
November 17, 2017

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen's civil war in March 2015 to try to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after the Houthis, backed by troops loyal to former Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh marched on Hadi's southern headquarters in Aden forcing him to flee.

Save the Children said late on Wednesday that a continuing blockade by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen's Shiite rebels is likely to further increase the death rate.

Earlier this month, the Saudi-led coalition closed access to Yemeni ports following a ballistic missile attack toward Riyadh by Houthi rebels.

The UN officials said more than 20 million people, including 11 million children, are in need of urgent assistance, with 7 million totally dependent on food assistance.

"The first step in this process will be taken within 24 hours and involves reopening all the ports in areas controlled by" Yemen's internationally recognized government, which the coalition backs, read the mission's statement. It said Monday the coalition would lift the blockade after widespread global criticism.

In another development, Daesh claimed responsibility for a vehicle bombing that security sources said killed 10 people, including civilians, at a security post in the government bastion of Aden on Tuesday.

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"We have some 21 million people needing assistance and seven million of those are in famine-like conditions and rely completely on food aid", United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said.

McGoldrick said the Saudi plan to supply Yemen through the Saudi port of Jizan in the north and Aden in the south was too complicated, dangerous, slow, and expensive, adding an estimated $30 per tonne to every shipment.

Like the capital, Sanaa, Hodeida and Salif are in rebel-held territory.

Saudi Arabia announced it shut down all ports after a Houthi ballistic missile attack near Riyadh's global airport. Saudi officials say the missile was supplied by Iran, and enforced the blockade as retaliation.

Iran denies arming the Houthis and blames the two-and-a-half-year conflict in Yemen on Riyadh.

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