Friday, November 24, 2017

Saudi Arabia Still Blocking Aid to Yemen despite Pledge to Lift Siege

Saudi Arabia Still Blocking Aid to Yemen despite Pledge to Lift Siege
Aid agencies said Saudi Arabia had not fulfilled its promise to reopen humanitarian aid corridors into northern Yemen on Thursday, leaving the main aid lifeline closed for tens of thousands of starving people.

Following intense pressure from western governments, Saudi Arabia agreed on Wednesday to lift a fortnight-long blockade of the port of Hodeida from noon (9am GMT) on Thursday, but several hours after the deadline, aid agencies said no permissions for humanitarian shipments had been given, The Guardian reported.

A UN source in Yemen said: “We have submitted the request to bring in aid, as we have every day, but there has been nothing. At this stage, we do not know the reason for the delay.”

Jamie McGoldrick, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen, said: “There is a system where we notify [the Saudi-led coalition] and ask for space or time slots to bring our planes in, and we negotiate in terms of getting space on the port as well. We’ve actually gone through the normal procedures and we’re just waiting to find out how that goes.”

He said he remained hopeful for the next 48 hours.

Two aid shipments – one containing food, including grain, and another containing medicines to combat a cholera outbreak – have been waiting for permission to dock at Hodeidah for days.

Saudi Arabia also said it was lifting a blockade on the airport at Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, but no flights had landed.

It imposed the blockade on all commercial and humanitarian shipments in response to a missile launched by Houthis towards Riyadh international airport.

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