Yemen port and airport 'opened for vital aid delivery'

Yemen port and airport 'opened for vital aid delivery'

The blockade came after Saudi Arabia intercepted a missile fired toward Riyadh.

Humanitarian aid deliveries have been resumed after Saudi authorities informed the UN on Friday that they would allow civilian flights operated by the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) to arrive in the Yemeni capital beginning Saturday.

Three other aircraft - two carrying United Nations aid workers and one carrying International Committee of the Red Cross staff - also landed at the airport, which was repaired earlier this week after a Saudi-led air strike knocked out its radio navigation systems, an AFP correspondent reported.

Three planes carrying humanitarian aid and aid workers landed in Yemen's capital on Saturday, the first delivery to the war-torn nation in almost three weeks due to a blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition that controls the entry points. About 7 million people face starvation in Yemen and their survival depends on worldwide assistance.

"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".

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The UN says a continuation of the two-week blockade would make Yemen's war-battered population more vulnerable to cholera and starvation.

The UN humanitarian office said that a ship loaded with wheat and another with equipment to treat the cholera epidemic are ready to head to Hodeida as soon as the Saudi-led coalition gives the go-ahead.

The largest fuel importing companies in Yemen have indicated they will no longer be able to supply the consumer market at the end of this week, OCHA said in a report dated November 23.

The humanitarian agencies are concerned that the opening might be short-lived, allowing the crisis to continue once vaccines and food from the three planes are expended.

Critics had warned that the blockade could lead to thousands of otherwise preventable deaths but said today that the plane's arrival was not enough.

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The U.S. -backed coalition closed air, land and sea access on November 6, in a move it said was to stop the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran.

Saudi and US officials have said that the missile fired by the Houthis was manufactured in Iran.

"It is good news, but we are still waiting to see the specific details", Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations humanitarian chief for Yemen, said of Wednesday's announcement.

The coalition had said it would lift its blockade of the port from Thursday but it remains in place.

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