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United Nations calls on Saudi coalition to open Yemeni seaports

14 November 2017

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to push back the Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa, and restore the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to power.

On Monday, Riyadh said the Saudi-led coalition would reopen Yemen's ports, days after closing them over a ballistic missile attack reportedly perpetrated by Houthi rebels on the capital.

Rebel authorities in Yemen said on Tuesday that a Saudi-led air strike had destroyed a navigation station at Sanaa global airport, which is critical to receiving already limited aid shipments.

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Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow reports from Djibouti.

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Millions of lives were at risk because of the blockade, United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said to reporters in Geneva by telephone from Amman. he said.

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McGoldrick underscored that United Nations aid was the main lifeline for most of Yemen's population, seven million of whom are at risk of starvation. 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. Humanitarian agencies have been making gains in fighting starvation as well as the deadly cholera outbreak that has killed over 2,200 and made almost 1 million people ill.

Noting that there were three weeks of vaccines left in the country, McGoldrick said "humanitarian supplies are dangerously low". McGoldrick was speaking to reporters in Geneva by phone from Amman, because he said flights into Sanaa were blocked.

"The humanitarian impact of what is happening here right now is unimaginable", Mr. McGoldrick told reporters. "This import blockage will reverse those gains and leave millions of people in a very precarious situation as we move ahead".

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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 global organisations delivering humanitarian assistance", the rebel-run General Authority for Civil Aviation said in a statement.

United Nations calls on Saudi coalition to open Yemeni seaports