First aid arrives in Yemen since blockade

By Allen Cone  |  Nov. 25, 2017 at 11:54 AM
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Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Humanitarian aid and workers arrived in Yemen on Saturday, the first help to the Middle East nation since a blockade began three weeks ago.

Three flights arrived with relief after a Saudi-led coalition halted essential supplies into Yemen after Saudi Arabia said Houthi rebels fired a missile at the international airport in its capital city of Riyadh. The missile was intercepted before impacting the airport or its surroundings.

Meritxell Relano, a UNICEF representative in Sanaa, Yemen, posted on Twitter that a chartered flight brought in 15 metric tons vaccines to protect about 600,000 children from diphtheria, tetanus and other diseases. "The needs are huge and there is much more to do for #YemenChildren," UNICEF tweeted.

At least 1 million children are at risk of being exposed to diphtheria, according to the World Food Program, the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

In all, 7 million people were at risk of famine in Yemen and it could rise, the organizations said.

Yemen imports up to 90 percent of its needs, including fuel.

At least 1 million people at risk of a renewed cholera outbreak because cities were unable to pump clean water to residents, according to U.N. partner, the Red Cross.

The aid arrived three days after the coalition said it would reopen the Red Sea port of Hodeidah and Sanaa's airport.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres had said in a letter to the permanent representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations that re-opening the port "alone will not meet the needs of 28 million Yemenis."

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