Coronavirus: Arab Coalition enables humanitarian aid ship to Houthi-held Hodeidah

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The Saudi Arabian-led Arab Coalition is facilitating a ship carrying humanitarian aid to Yemen, according to a statement, which said the World Food Programme-chartered ship left the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah for the Houthi-controlled Port of Hodeidah on Monday.

The aid comes at a crucial time as medical workers try to prevent a COVID-19 catastrophe in Yemen, which has been embroiled in conflict since 2015.

The ship is bringing 1,869 metric tons of medical equipment and 8,867 metric tons of food assistance under the World Food Programme’s humanitarian and relief efforts in Yemen.

The Arab Coalition provided all facilitation and necessary clearances for the WFP-chartered container ship, the statement said.

The ship is expected to arrive Wednesday to the Port of Hodeidah, a city under the Iran-backed Houthi militia’s control for the past five years.

A previous WFP chartered ship was unable to enter the Port of Hodeidah due to coronavirus restrictions.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the response to Yemen’s COVID-19 epidemic a “race against time,” during a virtual donor conference on Tuesday hosted by Saudi Arabia.

"We are in a race against time. Tackling COVID-19 on top of the existing humanitarian emergency requires urgent action," Guterres said.

The conference intended to help raise some $2.4 billion for Yemen, where 80 percent of the population is reliant on humanitarian aid. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the top donor for the WFP operations in Yemen over the past five years, has already pledged $525 million. The UN later announced donors had promised $1.35 billion.

Yemen has so far reported 327 coronavirus cases and 81 related deaths.

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