US calls for ‘additional steps’ to end Yemen blockade

Saudi-led coalition has shut air, land and sea access to country, saying it will halt arms from reaching Houthi rebels.

Yemen''s international airport in Sanaa
Conflict and international embargo have caused a famine in Yemen [Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters]

The White House has said it looks forward to “further steps” by the Saudi-led coalition to allow humanitarian work to resume in Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition closed air, land and sea access to the Arabian Peninsula country for all humanitarian workers and organisations on November 6, saying the blockade would halt arms from reaching Houthi rebels.

“Full and immediate implementation of the announced measures is a first step in ensuring that food, medicine, and fuel reach the Yemeni people and that the aid organisations on the frontlines of mitigating this humanitarian crisis are able to do their essential work,” the statement said.

A UN spokesperson told Reuters news agency the coalition gave permission for UN aid workers to resume flights to the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa last week.


The spokesperson said that aid workers are still not allowed to dock ships with much-needed wheat or medical supplies. 

Years of conflict and international embargo have caused a famine in Yemen.

Roughly seven million Yemenis are dependent on food and assistance from humanitarian sources for their continued survival.

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.

The Houthis have links to Iran and the Lebanese paramilitary group Hezbollah, which Saudi Arabia views as regional enemies.

Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, has also reportedly asked the Saudis to ease the blockade.

“The United States continues to believe that this devastating conflict, and the suffering it causes, must be brought to an end through political negotiations,” the White House said.

Source: Al Jazeera