Three UN agencies urge Saudi-led coalition to lift Yemen blockade

YEMENCONFLICT

On Monday, Saudi Arabia's state-run media agency celebrated its delivery of food baskets to needy families and, as The Guardian reports, announced it would allow shipments of aid through several ports held by the Yemeni government.

The coalition closed all air, land and sea ports last week in response to a rebel ballistic missile attack on Riyadh.

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

"Even before this latest blockade, based on this calculation Yemen would expect to see about 50,000 malnourished children under the age of five die from hunger or disease this year", the group said Wednesday, adding that this amounts to roughly one child dying in Yemen every 10 minutes.

Saudi Arabia announced it shut down all ports after a Houthi ballistic missile attack near Riyadh's worldwide airport.

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After two years of a devastating war, the Houthis still control much of Yemen's north while the south falls under the embattled President of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, whose government is recognized by the worldwide community and who is supported by the Saudi-led coalition.

Iran denies arming the Houthis and blames the conflict in Yemen on Riyadh.

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.

In this August 15, 2015 photo, a Yemeni child stands at a door as she waits to receive a polio vaccination during a house-to-house polio immunization campaign in Sanaa, Yemen.

The U.N. aid coordinator called on the Saudi-led coalition to open all Yemen's seaports urgently on Tuesday, saying millions of lives were at risk.

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However, McGoldrick said earlier in the day that there was "no indication" the coalition was actually lifting the blockade in line with its announcement.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at United Nations headquarters in NY that without Sanaa airport and Hodeida and Salif seaports fully functioning and able to receive cargo, "the dire humanitarian situation will deteriorate further".

Stephane Dujarric said Guterres welcomes the reopening of the port in the city of Aden but that this "will not meet the needs of 28 million Yemenis".

The closure of rebel-held ports was "making an already catastrophic situation far worse", they added.

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