The UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, called on Thursday for the Houthi militants to refrain from threatening international shipping lines in the Red Sea," Anadolu has reported. He also called upon the Saudi-led Coalition to continue to allow ships to enter Yemen's ports. The steady flow of imports is the lifeblood of millions of Yemenis from the most vulnerable groups," he explained.
McGoldrick made his comments just days after Saleh Ali Al-Sammad, the head of the Supreme Political Council of the Houthis – largely equivalent to the presidency of the country – threatened to cut the shipping lines in the Red Sea if the Coalition continued to advance towards the city of Al-Hudaydah in western Yemen.
The UN official welcomed what he described as the "constructive step" of opening Al-Hudaydah and Salif ports on the Red Sea to commercial and humanitarian shipments. He noted that Yemen depends heavily on imported food, medicine and fuel for 80 to 90 per cent of the population's needs. Having open ports, he pointed out, is crucial for meeting these needs.
Since 20 December, revealed McGoldrick, 13 vessels have delivered food and fuel to Yemen. Other ships are due to arrive in the near future. While describing this as "positive," he said that it was "much less than required to meet the population's overall needs for food and fuel."
Urging all the conflicting parties to refrain from any actions that cause obstacles or that result in more suffering to the Yemeni people, McGoldrick added, "The lives of Yemenis, of whom more than 22 million – out of 27 million – need humanitarian aid, all depend on keeping ports open without interruption or delay."
The war in Yemen has been ongoing for almost three years. Forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Saudi-led coalition have been fighting Houthi militias for control of the country.