The World Health Organization has estimated that more than 5,00,000 Yemenis have been infected with cholera this year. As per estimates by the United Nations, about 70,00,000 people are on the brink of famine which includes about 20,00,000 children.
At present, more than half of the healthcare facilities in the country have already closed down. People are forced to live amid sewage since sanitation is extremely poor. The coalition led by Saudi has turned away or delayed a host of ships carrying fuel and supplies to ports under control of the rebels. The blockade was eased intermittently, allowing some amount of fuel, supplies and food in the country.
Aerial bombing by the Saudi-led coalition in areas held by the Houthis have caused a huge damage to the hospitals, sewage plants and public water systems.
Despite the international help that Yemen has received through the humanitarian aid effort by the United Nations this year, severe food and medicine shortages have remained. And amidst all this, an unrelenting blockade on airports, seaports and highways of the country by the Saudi-led coalition is only making the situation far more worse.
The ports were closed after Houthis attacked Riyadh near its international airport through a ballistic missile on November 4. Saudi Arabia and the United States have alleged that the ballistic missile used in the attack was supplied by Iran. Houthis, on the other hand, have denied the allegation.
Now, as per recent reports, Saudi Arabia has, on Monday, said that the Saudi-led coalition will begin to reopen the seaports and airports of the war-torn country. The announcement has come after the coalition and their allies have faced severe criticism internationally over the closure. Also, a massive protest was staged by thousands of Yemenis outside the UN offices in rebel-controlled capital Sanaa.
The first step towards the reopening is expected to be taken within 24 hours of the announcement made on Monday, however, at the time of writing, there are no media reports of any action taken by the coalition in the direction.
Initially, the ports Aden, Mocha, and Makulla will be opened as they are in areas under Yemen’s internationally recognized government. For the ports in rebel-controlled or disputed territories, the Saudi mission has stated that it has asked for a team of experts from the U.N. to come and discuss the ways to ensure there is no smuggling of weapons. As quoted by The Hindu, the Saudi mission statement hopes that the team from the U.N. will help in preventing “the smuggling of weapons, ammunitions, missile parts and cash that are regularly being supplied by Iran and Iranian accomplices to the Houthi rebels”.