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

Casey Dawson
November 15, 2017

Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi reiterated at a news conference at United Nations headquarters in NY on Monday that closed seaports and airports will start reopening within the 24 hours promised late Sunday.

There was worldwide outcry last week when Saudi Arabia blockaded the country's ports after a missile was sacked towards its territory by the Houthi rebels.

The Saudi-led coalition, which is fighting Houthi rebels and is trying to restore the government of Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, has requested UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to send experts to Riyadh to develop a more robust verification and inspection mechanism to prevent the smuggling of weapons and missile parts into Yemen.

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. "Seven million people are already on the brink of starvation and the blockade will only bring them closer to it". The Houthis have denied that.

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That test would be the 15th ballistic missile test since Trump took office, and the first since September. Trump made the comment on Twitter after accusing the North Korean tyrant of calling him "old".

On Monday, Saudi Arabia said it would begin opening airports and seaports, but that has not happened yet. 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. Millions of lives were at risk because of the blockade, United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said to reporters in Geneva by telephone from Amman.

"The humanitarian impact of what is happening here right now is unimaginable", Mr. McGoldrick told reporters. The coalition closed all Yemen air, land and seaports last week in response to a rebel ballistic missile attack on Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia said Monday that the coalition would reopen seaports and airports in areas controlled by the Yemeni government, but those in rebel-held areas, including Hudaydah and Sanaa, would remain closed. However, Saudi Arabia demanded more rigorous checks at the Red Sea port of Hodeida, which is being controlled by the rebels. More than 2,000 Yemenis have died in a cholera outbreak now affecting almost one million people, AFP reported.

So far, Saudi wants to bring supplies into Yemen via the ports of Jizan and Aden, a plan McGoldrick said was risky and slow.

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