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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Arab foreign ministers in London to discuss Yemen humanitarian crisis

The UN and Britain want more ships to dock to bring aid to millions nearing famine

A technician unloads doses of vaccines from a UN aid plane after it landed in Sanaa on November 25, 2017. Mohammed Huwais / AFP
A technician unloads doses of vaccines from a UN aid plane after it landed in Sanaa on November 25, 2017. Mohammed Huwais / AFP

Arab foreign ministers are to meet in London on Tuesday amid growing international calls for the opening of Yemen’s ports to new aid shipments to prevent a humanitarian disaster.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen has eased restrictions at the main airport and two key ports following a three-week blockade after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels fired a missile at the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The United Nations and Britain on Tuesday have called for further ports to be opened up to alleviate what the UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“The people who are suffering most from this conflict are the people of Yemen,” said Mr Johnson.

Three humanitarian flights landed and took off from the capital of Sanaa on Saturday while a commercial cargo ship and a U.N.-chartered vessel docked at two ports on Monday.

“I welcome the steps taken towards reopening the ports of Hodeidah and Salif and the resumption of UN flights to Sanaa airport,” said Mr Johnson.

“The UK will continue to press for humanitarian and commercial access to be restored to all ports, so that the already dire humanitarian situation does not deteriorate further.”

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Rapidly dwindling fuel stocks and the dire human

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Rapidly dwindling fuel stocks are pushing at least seven million people towards famine, according to the United Nations.

The Saudi-led coalition went to war against the rebels, known as Houthis, in March 2015 on behalf of Yemen's internationally recognized government. But the coalition has made little progress, and the rebels still control much of northern Yemen, including Sanaa.

Saudi Arabia said on Monday that the coalition would lift the blockade that was imposed to prevent the Houthi rebels from receiving supplies.

Foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman will attend the meeting along with US officials. Over the past two years, the war in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 people.