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Saudi Arabia to reopen Yemen's air and seaports within next 24 hours

15 November 2017

Although Iran denies backing the Houthi rebels, the Saudi-led coalition said it will continue to keep the seaport closed until the United Nations comes up with a program that ensures weapons intended for the Houthis do not make it into the country.

Hedile noted the first flight carrying 218 passengers took off today.

The Saudi-led military coalition fighting Yemen's Houthi rebels last week announced it had closed all air, land and seaports in Yemen to stem what it said was the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the UN Abdallah al-Mouallimi told reporters in NY on Monday that ports in government-controlled areas such as Aden, Mukalla and Mocha will be reopened, but demanded more rigorous checks at the Red Sea port of Hodeida. The move came after Saudi Arabia intercepted a missile fired towards Riyadh, which it blamed on Tehran.

The conflict began in 2015 when the Houthis took over Yemen's capital of Sana'a and the Yemeni government.

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The United Nations has listed Yemen as the world's top priority humanitarian crisis, with more than 17 million people lacking food, seven million of whom are at risk of starvation.

"There is no embargo", Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said.

"Simply because it shares a border with Yemen, Saudi Arabia has used the full leverage offered by United States and UK military support to tighten a blockade on Yemen and hinder efforts to send humanitarian aid, causing severe food shortage and lack of medical supplies". "The continued closure by the Saudi-led coalition of critical seaports and airports is aggravating an already dire humanitarian situation".

"This halted 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. The resolution does not address whether US support for the Saudi-led coalition in the conflict triggers the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which lawmakers are split over. According to the UN's aid coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, there was no time to wait for a new inspection system to be set up. More than two-thirds of the people in need and 80 per cent of all cholera cases in Yemen are closest to the two ports, which are both in rebel-held territory.

It says those ports are in Aden, Mocha and Mukalla.

Saudi Arabia to reopen Yemen's air and seaports within next 24 hours