The United Nations on Friday demanded that all parties in war-torn Yemen grant civilian and commercial access to the country's ports and airports. "Today, millions of people in Yemen are facing a triple tragedy: the spectre of famine, the world's largest ever single-year cholera outbreak, and the daily deprivation and injustice of a brutal conflict that the world is allowing to drag on and on," said Stephen O'Brien, the under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs. "I renew my call ... to address the following points: ensure that all ports - land, sea and air - are open to civilian - including commercial - traffic," O'Brien said, adding that the airport in the capital Sanaa should be opened "immediately" to humanitarian aid. READ MORE: Satirical shows lighten the mood amid Yemen's war The airport is held by the rebel Houthi fighters who also control the rest of the capital, but airspace over Yemen is dominated by the rival Saudi-led Arab coalition, which is helping the Yemeni government fight the Iran-linked Shia rebels. O'Brien also called on all the parties in the conflict "to respect international humanitarian and human rights law" by protecting civilians and infrastructure.
The United Nation's top humanitarian co-ordinator has said Yemen is facing "total social, economic and institutional collapse." Stephen O'Brien was speaking directly to the UN Security Council, telling them "urgent action is required". Yemen is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, with almost seven million people on the brink of famine. An outbreak of cholera has also killed 500 people, and the UN expects 150,000 cases in the next six months. Mr O'Brien said the suffering of Yemenis was not a coincidence, or the "result of forces beyond our control" - but rather the fault of those involved and inaction by world powers.
CAIRO – The Saudi-backed Yemeni government will not allow its Houthi foes to keep the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, the information minister said, underlining its intention to remove the vital aid delivery point from the control of the Iran-aligned group. The United Nations has proposed that Hodeidah, where 80 percent of food imports arrive, should be handed to a neutral party, to smooth the flow of humanitarian relief and prevent the port being engulfed by Yemen's two-year-old war. The government of President Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi accuses the Houthis of using the port to smuggle in weapons and of collecting custom duties on goods, which they use to finance the war. "The government will not accept that Houthi control of Hodeidah port continues, or that humanitarian aid is obstructed or that its revenues are used for the military effort while state employees have not been paid for 10 months," the minister, Muammar al-Iryani, told Reuters on a visit to Cairo. Iryani repeated that the government had accepted a proposal by the U.N. envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, to hand over control of Hodeidah to a neutral party as a way of avoiding military action.
UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations aid chief warned Thursday that Yemen was sliding deeper into humanitarian crisis and could face famine this year. The poor Arab country has been engulfed in war since a Saudi-led coalition launched a bombing campaign in March 2015 to push back Iran-backed Houthi rebels who had seized the capital Sanaa and other cities. "The conflict in Yemen is now the primary driver of the largest food security emergency in the world," Stephen O'Brien, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told the Security Council. "If there is no immediate action, famine is now a possible scenario for 2017." About 14 million people -- nearly 80 percent of the entire Yemeni population -- are in need of food aid, half of whom are severely food insecure, O'Brien said. At least 2 million people need emergency food assistance to survive, he added.