Friday 14 December 2018

Saudi Arabia says it will reopen Yemen airports and seaports

A woman poses for a photo at a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, Yemen November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad
A woman poses for a photo at a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, Yemen November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Saudi Arabia has said that the Saudi-led coalition fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen will begin reopening airports and seaports in the Arab world's poorest country, days after closing them over a rebel ballistic missile attack on Riyadh.

The announcement from the Saudi mission at the United Nations came after the coalition fighting Yemen's rebels, known as Houthis, and their allies faced widespread international criticism over the closure, with the UN and more than 20 aid groups saying it could bring millions of people closer to "starvation and death".

"The first step in this process will be taken within 24 hours and involves reopening all the ports" in areas controlled by Yemen's internationally recognised government, which the coalition backs, the mission's statement said.

Those ports are in Aden, Mocha and Mukalla. For ports in rebel-held or disputed territories, such as Hodeida, the mission said it had asked the UN to send a team of experts to discuss ways to make sure weapons could not be smuggled in.

The Saudi-led coalition hopes that will prevent "the smuggling of weapons, ammunition, missile parts and cash that are regularly being supplied by Iran and Iranian accomplices to the Houthi rebels," the statement said.

Saudi Arabia announced it had shut down all ports after a ballistic missile attack on Riyadh, near its international airport, by the Houthis on November 4.

Saudi Arabia and the United States have accused Iran of supplying the ballistic missile used in that attack, saying the missiles bore "Iranian markings". The Houthis have denied that.

For its part, Iran has denied offering any arms to Yemen, though it has backed the Houthis and highlighted the high civilian casualties from the Saudi-led coalition's campaign of airstrikes.

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