Medicine

Saudi-led Coalition to Reopen Yemen's Hodeidah Port, Sana'a Airport

Saudi-led Coalition to Reopen Yemen's Hodeidah Port, Sana'a Airport

"The port of Hodeidah will be reopened to receive food aid and humanitarian relief, and Sana'a airport will be open for United Nations flights with humanitarian relief", a statement from the coalitiob carried by the Saudi state news agency SPA said.

His comments came shortly before the Saudi-led military coalition fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen announced it would reopen Sanaa airport and the port of Hodeida on Thursday for urgent humanitarian aid and United Nations aircraft.

Citing unnamed sources, Reuters yesterday reported that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had asked Saudi Arabia to ease its blockade of Yemen.

Tillerson's request to Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was one of several USA attempts to ease Riyadh's foreign policy.

Ports held by the Saudi-backed government were opened last week.

The Saudi-led coalition tightened a blockade of the Arab world's poorest country earlier this month, after a missile assault by Shiite rebels that targeted the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

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The missile was intercepted near Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport, sparking a war of words between Tehran and Riyadh, which accused Iran of "direct aggression" and supplying arms to the Huthis.

Wednesday's announcement says the Sanaa airport and the port of Hodeida will reopen, starting from Thursday. "If that were to happen that would be a very welcome and critically important development".

The coalition said on Wednesday that it would reopen the war-torn country's main airport and a key Red Sea port to humanitarian traffic on Thursday.

"It is good news, but we are still waiting to see the specific details", Jamie McGoldrick, the UN's humanitarian chief for Yemen, said.

The UN says a continuation of the two-week blockade would make Yemen's war-battered population more vulnerable to cholera and starvation.

The Huthi government on Tuesday announced the country's main global airport was fully functional again a week after a Saudi-led air strike destroyed the facility's navigation system. The airport had been open to only select humanitarian flights. The missile was shot down, but it was the farthest a projectile fired by Yemen's Shiite rebels, also known as the Houthis, had travelled into the kingdom.