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Saudi-led coalition denies blockading Yemeni territories

The coalition voiced deep regret over media reports quoting NGOs saying such reports only contribute to weakening the coalition’s “positive role”

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The Saudi-led coalition supporting legitimacy in Yemen has denied allegations by international human rights and aid groups that it was blocking access to the war-ravaged country, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

In a statement issued on Friday, the coalition voiced deep regret over media reports quoting NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International, saying such reports only contribute to weakening the coalition’s “positive role” in the delivery of humanitarian aid and facilitating the distribution of relief supplies, including petroleum products, among Yemenis.

The statement said the coalition has not imposed any blockade on any Yemeni territory or has not started an economic boycott of any kind. “What it does is performing duties with regard to implementing the United Nations resolutions aimed at preventing smuggling of arms and ammunition,” the statement said, pointing out that the coalition had given priority to health situation in Yemen while starting the Restoration of Hope campaign in Yemen. “It spared no efforts to improve the overall health condition in the country, the latest of which was the air drop of more than 40 tons of medical supplies to the city of Taiz and then transporting them to hospitals by making use of all available means, including animals.”

The statement added that the coalition forces, in cooperation with the Djibouti-based UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM), exerted every effort to facilitate transportation of humanitarian aid as well as commercial goods and petroleum products to all sections of the Yemeni people without discrimination. A total of 4,079 permits have been issued to all entry points in this regard.

The coalition forces have issued permits to all ships engaged in relief and humanitarian missions without any delay or inspections at the Yemeni ports.

Regarding commercial ships, UNVIM, in cooperation with the coalition forces and the legitimate government, issues permits at all Yemeni ports without discrimination.

The number of permits issued so far reached 1,462 and these include Hodeidah port controlled by the militias.

The coalition emphasized that the humanitarian disaster in Yemen is not because of any blockade on the shipment of food, petroleum products or commercial goods, but is primarily because of rebel forces who occupy the state machinery and manipulate all ports entry, notably the Hodeidah port, which has become a haven for smugglers.

“The militias try to create a black market in Hodeidah port for petroleum products and relief and trade materials to finance their coup as well as for personal gains of its leaders. They used it for political bargaining by imposing a siege and pursuing a policy of systematic starvation in provinces and cities like Taiz,” the statement said.

The coalition called on international bodies operating in Yemen to shoulder their responsibilities toward meeting urgent humanitarian needs of the Yemeni people, in addition to taking necessary measures to ensure that the aid reaches all areas of Yemen in a fair and equal proportion.

It also issued an urgent call to lift the blockade on areas besieged by the forces loyal to the coup leaders and called upon all organizations to verify the facts on the ground before making statements to the media.

This article was first published by the Saudi Gazette on July 30, 2016.