Arab coalition preparing alternatives to Yemen port for urgent aid

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The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said it was determined to help its government retake all areas held by Houthi militia, including the key port of al-Hudaydah, but would ensure alternative entry routes for badly needed food and medicine.

Around 80 percent of Yemen’s food imports arrive via al-Hudaydah, and the United Nations said last month a surge in fighting there would only cause “more displacement, more institutional collapse, and more suffering”.

In a statement sent to Reuters, a coalition source said that military operations were progressing well as part of Yemeni government efforts to recapture territory seized by the Houthis since 2014.

“Hudaydah and its port will remain an unwavering demand for regaining legitimacy in Yemen and extending the legitimate government’s authority over all lands of the Yemeni republic,” the source said, referring to the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

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“With determination and insistence from the (Hadi government), and with support from the coalition forces, all Yemeni territories will be liberated from the coup forces,” the source added, referring to the Houthis.

The source said the coalition was preparing facilities in Aden and Mukalla in south Yemen as an alternative in the event that al-Hudaydah port was affected by military operations.

“The leadership of the coalition is working on the rehabilitation of ports and border crossings for the entry and transportation of food and medical supplies to all Yemeni cities,” the source said.

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Saudi Arabia and the World Bank agreed on Wednesday to commit $300 million toward an aid package that would address Yemen’s immediate food security needs including rice and wheat, officials told a news conference in Riyadh.

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That was about $200 million short of what the World Bank said was needed. A UN pledging conference for Yemen last month raised promises of $1.1 billion, about half of what it said was necessary this year to head off a famine.

The coalition source said it was developing capacity to deliver aid at the southern ports and at a land crossing in central Yemen - all under the control of its allies in the country’s internationally recognized government.

The coalition says much of the civilian suffering in the Hudaydah area is caused by the Houthis diverting humanitarian aid supplies to their own forces.

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