Vaccines arrive in Yemen after Saudi Arabia lifts blockade

Posted November 26, 2017

On Wednesday, the coalition said it would allow humanitarian aid into Yemen through Sana'a airport and the western port of Hodeida.

The United Nations has warned that unless the blockade is lifted, Yemen will face "the largest starvation the world has seen for decades".

"There are more than 500 employees trapped either inside or outside being denied travel as well as 40 flights that were denied arrival at Sanaa airport", he added.

The UN children's fund UNICEF said Saturday's flight was carrying more than 15 tonnes, or 1.9 million doses, of vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and other preventable diseases.

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The International Committee of the Red Cross landed a passenger flight at Sanaa on Wednesday, spokesman Ewan Watson told AFP.

The White House on Friday applauded Saudi Arabia's decision to ease a total air and sea blockade on Yemen, and reaffirmed the United States' commitment to backing the Saudi-led coalition's efforts to beat back Iranian influence in the embattled country.

The White House issued a statement saying that the USA welcomes the announcement that Sanaa International Airport was allowing the flow of humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people, adding, "We look forward to additional steps that will facilitate the unfettered flow of humanitarian and commercial goods from all ports of entry to the points of need".

Saudi Arabia controls much of the nation's operations, closing off access from sky, sea and land entry-points in response to a missile attack by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Saudi Arabia, according to the VOA.

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The coalition closed air, land and sea access on November 6 to stop the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran.

Saudi and USA officials have said that the missile fired by the Houthis was manufactured in Iran.

The heads of three United Nations agencies had earlier urged the Saudi-led military coalition to lift the blockade, warning that "untold thousands" would die if it stayed in place.

Airstrikes and ground fighting have left more than 10,000 people dead and driven 3 million from their homes since the coalition intervened in the war between forces loyal to President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Houthi rebels.

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In an interview just before the coalition made the announcement, McGoldrick told The Associated Press that a continued blockade would make Yemen's long-suffering population more vulnerable to cholera and starvation.