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UN urges Saudi coalition to end 'catastrophic' Yemen aid blockade

The UN has listed Yemen as the world's number one humanitarian crisis. [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 November, 2017

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The UN on Tuesday urged a Saudi-led coalition to end a blockade which has halted humanitarian supplies into Yemen as the country battles famine and disease.
The United Nations on Tuesday urged a Saudi-led coalition to end a blockade which has halted humanitarian supplies into Yemen as the country battles famine and disease as a result of the ongoing conflict.

Yemen's air, sea and land borders were shut down by the Saudi-led coalition on Monday after the kingdom intercepted a Houthi ballistic missile over Riyadh two days earlier.

"If these channels, these lifelines, are not kept open it is catastrophic for people who are already in what we have already called the world's worst humanitarian crisis," a spokesman for the United Nations humanitarian office, Jens Laerke, told reporters in Geneva. 

The UN has listed Yemen as the world's number one humanitarian crisis, with 17 million Yemenis in need of food, seven million of whom are at risk of famine and cholera causing more than 2,000 deaths.

"Fuel food and medicine imports must continue to enter the country," Laerke said. "This is an access problem of colossal dimensions".

On Monday, the Saudi decision to seal Yemen's borders prevented the UN from sending two humanitarian aid flights to the war-torn country.

UN officials said they were in talks with the coalition to get permission for the flights to deliver aid to Yemen.

"There were no flight clearances granted to our flights today," UN spokesman Farhan Haq said on Monday. "We expected to have two flights going and those are on hold for now."

More than 10,000 people have been killed since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi against the Houthis.

Another 2,100 people have died of cholera since April as hospitals struggle to secure basic supplies amid blockades on ports and the country's main international airport.

Last month, the United Nations put the Saudi coalition on its blacklist for killing and maiming 683 children during the conflict in 2016 and for carrying out 38 verified attacks on schools and hospitals.

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