A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia stated on Monday that it would commit $1.5 billion in new humanitarian support for Yemen where it is assisting the internationally recognized government against Iran-aligned Houthis in a three-year-old civil war.
The US-backed alliance, which also includes the UAE, mentioned in a statement that it would work on an air bridge to Marib, set up 17 overland corridors for assistance deliveries and lead the development of extra Yemeni ports to receive humanitarian and essential cargo.
Spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki mentioned in a statement that, “We are backing a professionally planned and detailed humanitarian mission with military power and precision to guarantee that the humanitarian aid reaches the people who need it to lift their suffering.”
According to the United Nations, Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, where 8.3 million people are entirely dependent on external food assistance and 400,000 children are affected from severe acute malnutrition, a potentially lethal condition.
The coalition has already raised billions of dollars worth of aid into the country, yet the war has still cut food deliveries by more than half and pushed the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country to the edge of famine with outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria.
The statement mentioned that, the new assistance programme seeks to boost monthly imports to 1.4 million metric tons from 1.1 million last year.
An accompanying graphic suggested that overland delivery routes would expand into northern territory held by the armed Houthi movement, which is battling the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi based in the south.
Last week, Saudi Arabia deposited $2 billion in Yemen’s central bank after the Yemeni prime minister made a public plea for funds to prop up the currency and help people who are starving.
Monday’s announcement comes as Saudi Arabia and its associates face mounting criticism – including from US and European partners – over the civilian toll of the conflict, in which about 10,000 people have been killed by coalition air strikes and battling on the ground.
The coalition, under international pressure, eased a three-week blockade imposed on Yemeni ports and airports in November in reply to a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis toward the Saudi capital Riyadh.
US President Donald Trump last month called for Saudi Arabia to instantly allow humanitarian assistance to reach the Yemeni people, suggesting Washington had run out of tolerance with the blockade.
The war’s heavy toll on civilians has long been a sore point with members of Congress, triggering dangers to block U.S. help to the coalition including refuelling of jets and limited intelligence support.
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