SANAA, July 6, 2017 - UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, speaks during a press conference in Sanaa, Yemen, on July 6, 2017. Some 270,000 suspected cases have been registered and .... Image Source: Xinhua/Mohammed Mohammed/IANS

United Nations, Jan 13 : The UN has asked the Saudi-led coalition to keep the Red Sea ports of Hudaydah and Saleef open for humanitarian shipments.

UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, has welcomed the opening of Hudaydah and Saleef to commercial and humanitarian cargo. He called on the Saudi-led coalition to continue allowing vessels into the Red Sea ports, and for the Houthi rebels to desist from threatening this vital access route, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Friday, Xinhua reported.

McGoldrick also lauded the coalition's approval to move four cranes to Hudaydah Port to enhance its capacity and allow for faster off-loading of vessels, said the spokesman.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 13 vessels have delivered food and much-needed fuel through Hudaydah and Saleef since December 20, 2017, when the Saudi-led coalition announced that it would keep the two ports open for a period of one month for both humanitarian and commercial cargo. More deliveries are in the pipeline, according to OCHA.

A total of 22 million people in Yemen are in need of humanitarian assistance. Over 70 per cent of them live in proximity to the Hudaydah and Saleef ports.

The Saudi-led coalition, which is fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, sealed off land, sea and air access to Yemen in November 2017 after Houthi rebels launched a missile at the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The missile was intercepted.

The blockade was partially lifted later, but shipment of humanitarian supplies kept being affected.

Yemen has been in civil war since 2015, pitting Houthi forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and forces loyal to the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. In December 2017, conflict erupted between Houthi rebels and Saleh supporters, leading to the killing of Saleh.

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