DUBAI (Reuters) – The Saudi-led military coalition fighting against the Houthi movement in Yemen said on Wednesday it would allow aid access through the port of Hodeidah and United Nations flights to Sanaa airport.
The coalition closed all air, land and sea access to Yemen earlier this month following the interception of a missile fired toward the Saudi capital. It said it had to stem the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran, seen by Riyadh as the movement’s main backers.
Aid agencies warned the move would worsen the humanitarian crisis in Yemen where the war has left an estimated seven million people facing famine.
“The port of Hodeidah will be reopened to receive food aid and humanitarian relief, and Sanaa airport will be open for UN flights with humanitarian relief,” a statement from carried by the Saudi state news agency SPA said.
It added the decision would take effect from Nov. 23.
The coalition allowed the resumption of international commercial flights and opened Aden port last week, but it said the main aid route into the country (Hodeidah) would stay closed until it was satisfied its Houthi opponents could not use it to bring in weapons.
The Houthis, drawn mainly from Yemen’s Zaidi Shi‘ite minority and allied to long-serving former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, control much of the country including the capital San‘aa.
Saudi Arabia and its allies have been waging war against them on behalf of the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, based in Aden.