The White House on Friday hailed the announcement that the Saudi-led coalition has ended its air, sea and land blockage in Yemen to allow humanitarian aid to again flow into the war-ravaged country.
The immediate lifting of the blockade with the opening of Hudaydah port and Sanaa International Airport is a “first step in ensuring that food, medicine, and fuel reach the Yemeni people and that the aid organizations on the front lines of mitigating this humanitarian crisis are able to do their essential work,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
The U.S. looked forward to “additional steps” to hasten the flow of humanitarian aid and commercial goods from all ports of entry, she said.
The blockage has been in place since Nov. 6 and Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have been under pressure each day since to lift it.
Major needs include water pumps to help stem a massive cholera outbreak and fuel needed to transport food and goods.
U.N. officials say Yemen is facing the world’s largest cholera outbreak, near-famine conditions in places, and a severe breakdown in the health care system in what was already the Arab world’s poorest country — adding up to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting a Shiite rebel group, known as the Houthis, in Yemen. Iran is the Houthis’ most prominent ally and the Tehran been accused of supporting the militants and arming them with advanced missile systems.
“We remain committed to supporting Saudi Arabia and all our Gulf partners against the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aggression and blatant violations of international law,” Mrs. Sanders said. “Backed by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Houthi rebels have used destabilizing missile systems to target Saudi Arabia—systems that were not present in Yemen before the conflict.”
The White House called on the international community to hold the Iranian regime accountable for violating United Nations Security Council Resolutions against its missile program and the Houthi occupation of captured territory.
“Millions of Yemenis are currently enduring severe deprivation; the United States continues to believe that this devastating conflict, and the suffering it causes, must be brought to an end through political negotiations,” Mrs. Sanders said.
• This story is based in part on wire service reports.