United Nations calls on Saudi coalition to open Yemeni seaports

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne during a visit earlier this year to Saudi Arabia to promote the Australian defence industry

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne during a visit earlier this year to Saudi Arabia to promote the Australian defence industry

Saudi Arabia and its allies tightened a longstanding blockade of Yemen's land, sea and air borders a week ago in response to a missile fired by the Iran-backed Huthis that was intercepted near Riyadh global airport.

On November 4 Saudi Arabia said it intercepted north or Riyadh is said was sacked from Yemen - blaming Iran for the incident, Saudi authorities accused Iran of "declaring war" on their country.

Jamie McGoldrick of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Tuesday the world body is aware of an announcement that the coalition was allowing deliveries to two ports in southern Yemen, AP reported. 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.

Young and old, desk clerks and activists, Yemenis from all walks of life took to the streets Monday to protest a Saudi-led blockade that has left thousands struggling to survive.

The announcement from the Saudi mission at the United Nations came after the coalition fighting Yemen's rebels, known as Houthis, faced widespread worldwide criticism over the closure, with the U.N. and over 20 aid groups saying it could bring millions of already suffering people closer to "starvation and death". For ports in rebel-held or disputed territories, such as the city of Hodeida, the mission said it has asked the U.N.to send a team of experts to discuss ways to make sure weapons can't be smuggled in. The Saudi-led coalition has said it will keep Hodeidah port closed until a United Nations verification programme is reviewed to ensure no weapons reach the Houthis.

"We have some 21 million people needing assistance and seven million of those are in famine-like conditions and rely completely on food aid", he said. "The right choice for the Saudi regime and its allies is to stop the war, end the blockade and engage in direct dialogue", Samad said at the rally. "This import blockage will reverse those gains and leave millions of people in a very precarious situation as we move ahead".

Supplies in the country are running a critical low, according to the United Nations: There's only 20 days worth of diesel (needed for pumping water - vital for sanitation and fighting cholera) and three weeks supply of vaccines for children.

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