DUBAI — The Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen said it will continue to block the main aid route into the country until it is satisfied Al Houthi militia cannot use it to bring in weapons.
The coalition closed all air, land and sea access to Yemen last week following the interception of a missile fired towards the Saudi capital, saying it had to stem the flow of arms to Al Houthis from Iran.
Ports controlled by Yemen’s exiled government would reopen soon, the coalition said on Sunday in a statement issued by the Saudi mission at the United Nations.
However other ports, including Houthi-controlled Hodeida — where some 80 per cent of Yemen’s food supplies enter — will remain closed until a UN verification regime is reviewed to ensure no weapons reach Al Houthis, the statement said.
“The coalition, in consultation and full agreement with the legitimate government, will begin steps related to reopening of airports and ports in Yemen to allow the transport of humanitarian and commercial cargo,” the statement said.
It said the first steps will start within 24 hours and will include the southern ports of Aden and Mukalla and the Red Sea port of Al Mokha, which are all controlled by Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government.
The coalition asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to send a delegation to Riyadh to “review current inspection measures to reinforce and introduce a more effective inspection and verification regime (UNVIM) aimed at facilitating the flow of humanitarian and commercial supplies and prevent smuggling of weapons, ammunition and missile parts ...”
Saudi Arabia has accused arch-foe Iran of supplying the ballistic missile which was shot down near Riyadh airport without causing any casualties. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which pits the internationally recognised government, backed by Saudi Arabia and its allies, against Al Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The Saudi-led coalition has been targeting Al Houthis since they seized parts of Yemen in 2015, including the capital Sana’a, forcing Hadi to flee and seek help from neighbouring Saudi Arabia.