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Top UN official condemns blockade of Yemen

November 09, 5:16 UTC+3 UN

The UN aid chief considers it necessary to immediately resume the organization’s flights to the country, humanitarian and commercial supplies to all Yemeni ports

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UN, November 9. /TASS/. The Saudi-led blockade of Yemen would cause the "largest famine the world has seen for many decades with millions of victims," the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia’s air defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile fired from Yemen over Riyadh by the Houthi rebels late last week, after which the coalition command announced the closure of all airports and ports of Yemen. It explained the decision to close airports, seaports and border-crossing points by the need to prevent weapons supplies for rebels from Iran.

The UN aid chief considers it necessary to immediately resume the organization’s flights to the country, humanitarian and commercial supplies to all Yemeni ports, and to end involvement in operations of the United Nations and its partners.

According to Lowcock, the UN’s World Food Program had been feeding seven million people per month in Yemen before the access to the country was closed. "What we need is a winding down of the blockade so that we can save the lives of those people," he said.

Since August 2014, Yemen has remained devastated in a conflict between the governmental forces and the Houthi insurgents. It entered the most active phase after the Saudi-led coalition invaded the country in March 2015. According to Yemeni human rights activists, more than 10,000 civilians have been killed in the country since spring 2015, including almost 2,400 children and some 2,000 women. A total of 18,500 Yemenis were injured in the reported period.

The conflict has led to a humanitarian disaster in the country. The UN reports about 20 million people in Yemen - about 70% of the country’s population - require humanitarian assistance, and the number of internally displaced persons exceeds three million. Seven million are on the edge of hunger and two million children are short of food. Besides, the cholera outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people over five months.

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