Smashed cranes slow aid flow to Yemen-UN Aid Chief

Article for Digital Journal by Ian Timberlake

"Smashed cranes" at Yemen's rebel-held Hodeida port are hindering the entry of relief supplies to ease a deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country, the UN aid chief said Wednesday.

On a visit to Saudi Arabia, Stephen O'Brien told reporters that aid flow needed to increase at the Red Sea port, through which 80 to 90 percent of Yemen's supplies transited before the war.

"The real issue is the restriction of unloading capacity at the port because the cranes are smashed," said O'Brien, who heads the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

He did not mention the cause of the damage to the cranes, but in August last year he said coalition air strikes on the port were in contravention of international humanitarian law.

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Britain increases aid to Yemen while selling arms to Saudis

Express article by Tom Batchelor

BRITAIN is to increase the amount of aid destined for those caught up in the civil war in Yemen - at the same time as it sells arms to the Saudi regime which is carrying out airstrikes in the war-torn Gulf state.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel announced that Britain will provide an additional £37million in funding for Yemen this year.

A total of £72m has already been committed to the crisis in Yemen by the UK Government.

But the Government has simultaneously approved more than £3billion in arms sales over the past 18 months.

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Saudi Arabia Warns the UN and Aid Workers in Yemen

Article for Vice News by Samuel Oakford:

The Saudi government has sent letters to the United Nations and to aid agencies operating in Yemen, stating that they should leave areas under Houthi control in order to be safe from bombing, VICE News can reveal.

An initial letter was sent by the Saudi mission in Geneva on February 5 to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The "note verbale" — French for "verbal note," a kind of diplomatic communication — requested that OCHA "notify all the international organizations working in Yemen about the necessity of relocating their headquarters outside the military operations areas to be away from regions where the Houthi militias and the groups belonging to them are activating, in order for the Coalition forces to guarantee the safety and security of the international organizations." A similar letter, addressed to "International Organisations and their employees," and marked "urgent," was sent out on the same day by the Saudi embassy in London.

Houthi rebels and their allies loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh control areas where the majority of Yemen's population lives, including the capital Sanaa, where most aid organizations and UN operations are headquartered.

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MY COMMENT
This is very worrying. In their next assault on Sanaa, the Saudis want no foreign observers on the ground. They have also just bombed Sanaa's Nehm exchange, seriously degrading Yemen's internet connection to the outside world. They want to silence Yemeni witnesses by cutting them off from the outside world, and kick out the foreign witnesses. This should raise major alarm bells in governments around the world!