Saudi Arabia says it will allow food and fuel shipments into Yemen after UK criticism

Saudi Arabia says it will allow food and fuel shipments into Yemen after UK criticismSaudi Arabia yesterday declared it will keep open a vital port in war-ravaged Yemen to ease the humanitarian crisis, following pressure from Britain. The kingdom said the Houthi rebel-controlled port of Hodeidah would remain open to humanitarian and commercial ships for a month, despite Monday’s ballistic missile attack by rebels on Riyadh. "The Coalition will allow the entry of commercial ships, including fuel and food vessels, for a period of 30 days," the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement. It said the move followed the "intensification" of a UN vessel security inspection program that it previously said was inadequate.  A malnourished Yemeni child receives treatment at a hospital in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen Credit:  MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP Saudi Arabia leads a 10 nation coalition that is supporting Yemeni troops loyal to the internationally-recognized government in their fight against the Iranian-backed Houthis. It closed Houthi controlled ports and airports in Yemen last month, in a move that drastically exacerbated food and fuel shortages in a country already reeling from nearly three years of war that has killed more than 10,000 people, caused a cholera epidemic and pushed millions to the brink of famine.  Although some aid ships have been allowed to dock in recent weeks, the ports have remained effectively closed to commercial shipping, which aid agencies say is vital to averting famine.  Secretary of State For International Developement Penny Mordaunt  warned Saudi Arabia could be in breach of humanitarian law Credit: David Rose/The Telegraph “I am very pleased at today’s announcement by the Saudi-led Coalition that Hodeidah port in Yemen is open again,” Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary, said yesterday. “I have been urging this step for some time, and I hope this will start to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people and get them the supplies they desperately need.” The first fuel vessel since restrictions were put in place was cleared to enter Hodeidah yesterday and is expected to dock in 24 hours, a UK official with knowledge of the matter told the Telegraph. Three food ships are also believed to have been cleared.  The coalition claimed its November 6 blockade was an attempt to stop the flow of weapons to the Houthis, which it said the UN-run vessel inspection system had failed to prevent.   Yemeni women walk through the debris of a housing block allegedly destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes in Sana a Credit: YAHYA ARHAB/EPA However, it was roundly rebuked for the impact on the already-desperate civilian population, which is facing what has been described as one of the worst humanitarian crises in history.  In rare criticism of one of its allies, a British Cabinet minister warned Riyadh this week that its relationship with the UK could be damaged if it did not immediately act to ease restrictions which were worsening an already major crisis.  Penny Mordaunt, the secretary of state for international development, told the Telegraph that Saudi Arabia's withholding of aid could amount to “use of starvation as a weapon,” a crime under international humanitarian law. While the UN and international humanitarian agencies raised the alarm over the blockade last month, Britain and other key Saudi allies initially remained mostly silent. Amnesty International warned last month that Britain, France, and the United States could be "complicit" in war crimes by supplying arms to Riyadh and failing to oppose the blockade.  Britain has licensed £4.6 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia since the war in Yemen began in March 2015. 



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