Global 'Elders' group demands Saudi Arabia lifts Yemen blockade
An independent group of world leaders have called on Saudi Arabia and its partners in a coalition fighting rebels in Yemen to lift their blockade on the war-ravaged nation to avert a humanitarian disaster.
The Elders, founded by the late Nelson Mandela, said the blockade has aggravating an already "dire" human situation in Yemen, an a statement released on Saturday.
"All parties to the conflict must allow complete and unfettered humanitarian access to those in need," the statement said.
"The civilian population of Yemen is paying a horrendous price for the war waged by rival factions and their foreign backers. All parties to the conflict must allow complete and unfettered humanitarian access to those in need," Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan Kofi Annan, Chair of The Elders, said.
The statement echoed concerns by the UN and aid groups that the blockade could bring millions of people closer to "starvation and death."
The coalition tightened its blockade on Yemen after the rebels fired a missile that was intercepted near the Saudi capital, Riyadh last weekend. The Saudis blamed the strike on Iran, who they say supports the rebel group.
The Elders are a group of world figures who work for international peace.
The UN has listed Yemen as the world's number one humanitarian crisis, with 17 million people in need of food, seven million of whom are at risk of famine.
More than 2,000 Yemenis have died in a cholera outbreak now affecting nearly one million people.
Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in neighbouring Yemen in March 2015 to push back the Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa, and restore the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.
More than 10,000 people, most of which civilians, have been killed since the 2015 intervention.