Yemen rebels vow escalation as Saudis look to relax blockade

Posted November 17, 2017

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

Hedile noted the first flight carrying 218 passengers took off today.

The coalition closed all air, land and sea access to Yemen on November 6 following the interception of a missile fired towards the Saudi capital, saying it had to stem the flow of arms from Iran to its Houthi opponents in the war in Yemen.

Despite the Saudi announcement, a top leader of Yemen's Shiite rebels on Monday vowed retaliation against the oil-rich kingdom over its disastrous blockade of his war-torn country.

According to Politico, the resolution "publicly acknowledges the Pentagon has been sharing targeting information and refueling warplanes that Saudi Arabia and other allies are using to attack Houthi rebels".

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused its regional rival Iran of supplying the missile but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denied arming the Houthis and said the attack was a "reaction" by Yemenis to coalition air strikes. Murphy explained in the detail the agonizing death from cholera that many in Yemen have already suffered and noting that "by the end of the year there will be 1 million people diagnosed with cholera". Yemen was the Arab world's poorest country even before the conflict began.

The UN officials said more than 20 million people, including 11 million children, are in need of urgent assistance, with 7 million totally dependent on food assistance.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is "very much disappointed" that the Saudi-led coalition is refusing to lift its blockade of Yemen and has written directly to Riyadh's representative, his spokesman said Thursday. The UN has called it the "worst humanitarian crisis in the world".

The government-controlled port of Aden has re-opened and Sanaa airport is operating for commercial flights, however this is inadequate as "needs are so huge", he said. "If left untreated, 150,000 malnourished children could die within the coming months", the three major aid agencies said in their statement Thursday, significantly adding to the figure presented by Save the Children.

The fiery comments by Saleh al-Sammad, the head of the Presidency Council of the Houthis, came during a rally of thousands of rebel supporters marching down a main boulevard in the capital, Sanaa.