GENEVA (Dispatches) – The United Nations aid chief has called on the Saudi-led coalition to loosen restrictions on imports of food and fuel through commercial ports into the war-wracked country, warning that millions more could face starvation.
"I am particularly concerned about the recent decline of commercial food imports through the Red Sea ports. Pressure on the currency and a liquidity crisis in the Yemeni banking system make imports less viable for traders,” Mark Lowcock, UN emergency relief coordinator, said in a statement.
Confidence among commercial shippers has eroded due to delays, "including as a result of inspections undertaken by the Saudi-led coalition after these vessels have been cleared by UNVIM,” he said, referring to the UN verification mechanism.
The United Nations says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.
A high-ranking UN aid official recently warned against the "catastrophic” living conditions in Yemen, stating that there was a growing risk of famine and cholera there.
"People's lives have continued unraveling. Conflict has escalated since November driving an estimated 100,000 people from their homes,” John Ging, UN director of aid operations, told the UN Security Council on February 27.
Ging said cholera had infected 1.1 million people in Yemen since last April, and a new outbreak of diphtheria had occurred in the war-ravaged Arab country since 1982.
In the latest development, at least six civilians have been killed when Saudi military aircraft carried out airstrikes against a residential area in Yemen’s northwestern province of Sa’ada as the Riyadh regime presses ahead with its atrocious bombardment campaign against its southern neighbor.
Saudi fighter jets conducted aerial assaults against a house in the Majz district of the province on Friday, leaving six people dead and four others injured, an unnamed local source told Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network.
Earlier in the day, Yemeni army forces, backed by allied fighters from Popular Committees, fired a domestically-designed and -developed ballistic missile at a military base in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern border region of Najran in retaliation to the Saudi aggression against their country.
A Yemeni military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the short-range Badr-1 missile struck Mostahadeth base with great precision.
The Saudi air force later claimed to have intercepted the ballistic missile.
Colonel Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition engaged in the war on Yemen, said the missile was detected at 00:39 a.m. local time on Friday (2139 GMT Thursday).
On Thursday, Yemeni snipers shot and killed seven Saudi and Sudanese troopers as they launched attacks against their positions in Saudi Arabia’s Jizan region, located approximately 970 kilometers (602 miles) southwest of the capital Riyadh.
Yemenis gather next to a water tank to collect water in an impoverished coastal village on the outskirts of the Yemeni port city of Hudaydah, on May 12, 2018.