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Aid agencies say Yemen blockade remains, Egeland calls it 'collective punishment'

Aid agencies say Yemen blockade remains, Egeland calls it 'collective punishment'”

The coalition closed all airports and ports in Yemen on November 5, a day after the Houthis fired a ballistic missile at Saudi capital Riyadh.

The United Nations has warned that unless the blockade is lifted, Yemen will face "the largest starvation the world has seen for decades".

Worldwide aid groups describe Yemen as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with millions at risk of starvation.

A flight carrying humanitarian aid worker landed in Sanaa, the first after a almost three week blockade imposed by the Saudi-led military coalition, an official of the U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) said.

But it added that desperately needed shipments of food and medicines to the rebel-held Red Sea port of Hodeida remained blocked.

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The White House made a statement that it looks forward to additional steps that will facilitate the flow of humanitarian and commercial goods from all ports of entry.

The UN children's fund UNICEF said Saturday's flight was carrying more than 15 tonnes, or 1.9 million doses, of vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and other preventable diseases. Two days later, the Saudi-led coalition announced it would reopen the Sanaa airport and the key Port of Hodeida for humanitarian purposes the following day.

United Nations officials cautiously welcomed the decision and said they also expect the port of Salef also reopen.

The coalition closed air, land and sea access on November 6 to stop the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran.

The missile was intercepted near Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport, sparking a war of words between Tehran and Riyadh, which accused Iran of "direct aggression" and supplying arms to the Houthis.

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"It is good news, but we are still waiting to see the specific details", Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations humanitarian chief for Yemen, said of Wednesday's announcement.

Sources in Washington said that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had asked Saudi Arabia to ease its blockade of Yemen before the kingdom chose to do so.

The three-year civil war continues to rage in Yemen, where 10,000 have died and around 3 million people have been displaced.

The coalition, which intervened in the Yemeni conflict on March 2015 to back the Sunni government of the Yemeni exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has said it is planning to give clearance to aid ships only, but has yet to say whether it will allow commercial imports to access the rebel-held sea ports.

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