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US calls on Iran to direct aid shipment to Djibouti not Yemen

May 13, 2015 at 11:23 am

The United States yesterday called on Iran to direct an aid cargo ship bound for Yemen to the United Nations aid distribution centre in Djibouti, the Anadolu Agency reported.

“If the Iranians follow UN protocol, move the ship to a port in Djibouti, allow the humanitarian cargo they claim is on the ship to be distributed through UN channels, then they will have done the right thing in this case,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said.

Warren pointed out that this will allow the aid to be rapidly and efficiently distributed to those who require it in Yemen.

He told reporters that the US military is tracking the ship after Tehran reportedly said it would send warships to escort the vessel to Yemen.

The ship, the Iran Shahed, has moved through the Strait of Hormuz and was now in the Gulf of Oman, but the vessel was not under any naval escort at the moment, Warren said. “We are monitoring the Iranian ship. We are aware of the Iranians’ statement that they plan to escort this ship with warships,” he added.

He stressed: “If the Iranians are planning some sort of stunt in the region, they know as well as we do that it would be unhelpful and in fact could potentially threaten the ceasefire [in Yemen] that has been so painstakingly brought about.”

“We call on the Iranians to do the right thing here and deliver their humanitarian aid in accordance with UN protocols which is through the distribution hub that’s been established in Djibouti,” he added.

According to the Pentagon spokesman the United Nations has contact channels with the Iranian authorities in this regard.

A humanitarian ceasefire began in Yemen yesterday evening after 48 days of fighting and aerial bombardment waged by a Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels.

Meanwhile, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said yesterday that establishing the UN humanitarian aid distribution centre in Djibouti aims “to respond to the local population needs and allows the implementation of UN Security Council No. 2216 which put an arms embargo on Houthi rebels.”

Earnest said: “Iran understands that it cannot afford the consequences of manipulating with the humanitarian aid meant for people who are in dire need for it in Yemen.”