Saudi-led coalition says to keep main Yemen port open for a month despite missile attack

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 20, 2017 12:06 AM

DUBAI (Reuters) - The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen has decided to keep Yemen's main Hodeidah port open for a month, the coalition said on Wednesday, despite a ballistic missile attack by the Iran-aligned Houthis towards the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The coalition, which controls Yemen's airspace and access to its ports, last month blocked all entry points to Yemen after a similar missile attack on Riyadh's international airport.

Saudi authorities had said that both missiles were intercepted without causing any casualties.

"Keen to maintain humanitarian aid to the brotherly Yemeni people and as a result of intensified inspection measures, the coalition command announces that Hodeidah port will remain open for humanitarian and relief supplies," the coalition said in a statement carried by Saudi state new agency SPA.

The coalition said that ships bringing in fuel and food supplies will also be allowed to enter for another 30 days while proposals made by the United Nations envoy to Yemen are implemented, it added.

The agency did not elaborate on the proposals, but the coalition had been demanding that a U.N. inspection regime agreed in 2015 be further tightened to prevent weapons from reaching the Houthis.

The Red Sea port is the country's main entry point for food and humanitarian supplies.

The coalition had accused Iran of sending the missile that was fired towards Riyadh in November, and the United States last week displayed what it said was evidence that it was provided by Iran. Tehran has denied the report.

The closure of Yemen's ports and airports last month caused food and fuel shortages in a country already reeling from three years of war that has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than two million and caused a cholera epidemic that had infected some one million.

The coalition had said came under heavy international criticism, leading to the blockade being eased.

(Reporting by Hesham Hajali, writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Michael Perry)