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USA calls for 'additional steps' to end Yemen blockade

25 November 2017

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.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Shiite Houthi rebels shut down all land, sea and air access to Yemen earlier this month after the rebels fired a missile that targeted Riyadh. "If that were to happen that would be a very welcome and critically important development".

Saudi Arabia has announced that they intend to ease the blockade against northern Yemen's Hodeidah Port on Thursday, potentially allowing humanitarian aid into the region for the first time in weeks.

The Houthi government on Tuesday announced the country's main worldwide airport was fully functional again a week after a Saudi-led airstrike destroyed the facility's navigation system.

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Global aid groups describe Yemen as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with millions at risk of starvation.

About 7 million people in Yemen, out of a population of 27 million, depend entirely on food aid, and 4 million rely on aid groups for clean water.

Aid group Save the Children welcomed the coalition's announcement but said opening the port and airport would be "nowhere near enough to avert a potential starvation in Yemen".

"It is good news", said Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations humanitarian chief for Yemen. The missile was struck down but it was the farthest a projectile by the rebels, also known as Houthis, had penetrated into the kingdom.

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Saudi Arabia said the move was meant to stop the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran, although Iran has denied supplying weapons to the rebel forces.

Yemen's civil war has been raging since 2015, with the Houthis, a group largely composed of the Zaidi Shia minority, stormed Sanaa and deposed the internationally recognised president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Nearly 9,000 people have since been killed, but millions face the risk of a deadly cholera epidemic and stand on the brink of starvation.

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USA calls for 'additional steps' to end Yemen blockade