AntiWar.com & Agence France-Presse – 2015-04-28 22:08:28
Saudis Bomb Yemen Airport, Assuring End to Aid Flights
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(April 28, 2015) — Calamitous shortages of basic goods have fueled a crisis across much of Yemen, particularly the capital city of Sanaa, where Saudi airstrikes are already putting pressure on hospitals. The Saudis have also harshly limited aid shipments into Sanaa.
Today, they assured that there will be no future air shipments to Sanaa, destroying the runway at the Sanaa International Airport in a bombing run.
Saudi officials insist that the bombings prevented an Iranian cargo plane, that might conceivably have weapons on board, from landing in Sanaa. It did that, surely, but also eliminated any hope for humanitarian relief to the city of two million.
Iran said the plane was carrying humanitarian aid, and considered the Saudi order to not deliver it illegal. Yemeni television reported the plane was also to carry some seriously wounded civilians back to Iran for medical treatment. With both takeoff and landing runways now destroyed, there’s no getting out for those civilians.
Aid groups reported they were going to try to route their shipments, which are being seriously limited by the Saudis at any rate, to the airport in Hodeidah, though that airport too was bombed today, and its status is unclear.
Food, Medicine Shortages Mount in Blockaded Yemen
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(April 27, 2015) — The poorest country in the Middle East, and one that has to import some 90 percent of its food from abroad, Yemen obviously wasn’t in great shape ahead of the Saudi war. Tack of a month-long naval blockade, and the situation is increasingly dire.
Hospitals in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, out of fuel for their ambulances, are begging anyone who still has fuel to pick up the injured from Saudi airstrikes to bring them in for treatment. Once there, shortages of key medications make the treatment hit-or-miss.
The big story, increasingly, is food however. The naval blockade has been holding up cargo ships off the coast for protracted amounts of time, and entry is far from assured. This has led many of the companies that traditionally ship food to Yemen that they can’t take the jobs until the war is resolved.
The Saudi and Egyptian navies have been aggressive about limiting ships reaching the Yemeni coast, and even aid groups have struggled to get permission to deliver humanitarian aid. In this environment private shippers with a cargo of wheat don’t stand a chance.
The UN World Food Program warned of price increases and said it is using its own stocks in the country to try to keep the situation calm. Locals reported a bag of flour that pre-war would’ve cost 6,000 Rials ($28 US) quickly rose to 10,000 Rials when the blockade began. Now, finding flour for sale at all is virtually impossible.
Warnings that a humanitarian crisis could rapidly become an outright calamity are increasingly common, and with the war looking increasingly like it’s a long one, mass starvation increasingly looks like an inevitability for those on the ground.
Saudi-backed officials from the former Hadi government also declared a state of emergency in some southern cities of Yemen, though notably they did not mention the blockade, instead complaining about the Houthis resisting their attempts to seize those cities.
Yemenis Wait for Aid as Airstrikes Continue
ADEN (April 27, 2015) — Aircraft from the Saudi-led coalition pounded Iran-allied Houthi militiamen and rebel army units in central Yemen and the capital Sanaa on Monday, as the humanitarian crisis worsened with hold-ups in the delivery of aid .
Residents said warplanes flew between 15 and 20 sorties against groups of Houthi fighters and arms depots in the Dhalea provincial capital, Dhale, and the nearby city of Qa’ataba, in the morning, setting off a chain of explosions that lasted for two more hours.
Fighting intensified on Sunday, after a lull following an announcement by Riyadh last week that it was ending its nearly five-week-old bombing campaign except in places where the Houthis were advancing.
The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the five other GCC countries will discuss the war in Yemen at a meeting in Riyadh on Thursday, the bloc’s chief said.
The meeting in the Saudi capital Riyadh would cover “issues vital to the operations of the Gulf Cooperation Council and developments in the region, including the crisis in Yemen,” GCC secretary general Abdullatif Zayani said on Monday.
All members of the GCC except Oman are taking part in the Saudi-led coalition.
The coalition of Arab countries is trying to stop Houthi fighters and loyalists of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh taking control of Yemen after forcing the internationally recognised president, Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, to flee the country.
The coalition has been backed by the United States, and the US secretary of state John Kerry on Monday said he would use a meeting with the Iranian foreign minister in New York later in the day to urge Tehran push the Houthi rebels back to the negotiating table.
An escalation in fighting in late March has created a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and vital aid was reportedly being held up by both sides. Houthis were stopping convoys of trucks reaching Aden and an arms blockade by the coalition navies searching ships for weapons was holding up food deliveries by sea.
Telecommunications within Yemen and with the outside world could be cut within days due to a shortage of fuel, the state-run news agency Saba quoted the director of telecommunications as saying. Fuel shortages were also preventing traders from moving food to market, the United Nations’ World Food Programme said.
Saudi-led warplanes struck the area around the presidential compound in Sanaa for a second day on Monday, while heavy street fighting was under way in the strategically important city of Taez in central Yemen, according to residents and the Red Cross.
On the ground, Saudi Arabia has started to deploy National Guard troops in the Najran region on its border with Yemen, the kingdom’s official media reported late on Sunday.
They were joining members of the Saudi border guard and army who have reinforced the frontier since late March.
The UN security council was in closed-door consultations on Monday over the crisis in Yemen and to hear former envoy Jamal Benomar give a final report.
The Moroccan diplomat resigned earlier this month after losing the support of Gulf countries.
Mr Benomar will be replaced by Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who worked as the UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen from 2012 to 2014.
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