News ID: 204338
Published: 0250 GMT November 14, 2017

UN dismisses Saudi conditions to reopen Yemen port

UN dismisses Saudi conditions to reopen Yemen port

The United Nations on Tuesday dismissed a Saudi demand that tighter inspections be put in place at Yemen's Hodeida port before a devastating blockade is lifted.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen shut down the country's land, sea and air borders a week ago in response to a missile attack by Houthi Ansarullah that was intercepted near Riyadh, AFP reported.

The UN has warned that an already catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Yemen was worsening each day that aid shipments remained blocked.

Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the UN Abdallah al-Mouallimi told reporters in New York on Monday that ports of Aden, Mukalla and Mocha which are controlled by former government forces will be reopened, but demanded more rigorous checks at the Red Sea port of Hodeida.

The UN's aid coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said there was no time to wait for a new inspection system to be set up.

"The humanitarian impact of what is happening here right now is unimaginable," he told reporters in Geneva in a phone conference.

"I don't think discussions (on new inspections) should hamper the port remaining open", he added.

"The humanitarian aspect of this is something we need to address immediately because we can't have those ports closed or those airports closed while we wait for discussions on new (inspection) mandates to go ahead."

McGoldrick underscored that the UN aid was the main lifeline for most of Yemen's population, seven million of whom are at risk of famine.

He said that a UN verification and inspection mechanism already in place could work with the Saudi-led coalition on implementing new procedures but that keeping ports closed in the interim was not viable.

Stocks of diesel and petrol are running out in parts of Yemen because of the blockade, while the prices of basic goods have skyrocketed.

The blockade "is complicating what is already a catastrophic situation", McGoldrick said.

Yemen has been under heavy airstrikes since March 2015 by Saudi Arabia’s warplanes as part of the brutal war in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstall Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

Local Yemeni sources say over 14,000 people have been killed since the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia began its aggression against the impoverished nation in 2015.

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.

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