Saudi Arabia coalition announces $1.5 billion in aid for Yemen

The kingdom said on Sunday the coalition it heads in Yemen would also “lead the expansion of additional Yemeni ports” to receive cargo and humanitarian assistance.

In this April 13, 2017, file photo, Yemenis present documents in order to receive food rations provided by a local charity, in Sanaa, Yemen. (Source: AP Photo/File)

Saudi Arabia has announced USD 1.5 billion in new aid for Yemen, where nearly three years of conflict has devastated the local economy and pushed millions to the brink of famine, causing what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The kingdom said on Sunday the coalition it heads in Yemen would also “lead the expansion of additional Yemeni ports” to receive cargo and humanitarian assistance, ensure multiple daily flights of cargo planes carrying aid from Saudi Arabia to Yemen’s Marib province and establish “safe passage corridors” to ensure transportation of aid to non-governmental organisations operating inside Yemen.

The expansion of ports will be supported with up to USD 40 million from the Saudi-led coalition. The coalition said that it would also allocate up to USD 30 million to cover transportation costs of non-humanitarian shipments intended for the port of Hodeida, in rebel-held territory, to “their intended destination in Yemen”.

Additionally, the kingdom said it will make a donation of up to USD 2 billion in fuel for the transportation of humanitarian aid.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of nine Arab countries in airstrikes against Yemeni rebels and their allies, who overran Yemen’s capital and forced the government into exile. The rebels, known Houthis, who are backed by Saudi rival, Iran, continue to control the capital, Sanaa, and territory in Yemen’s north, which borders Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s announcement today is being followed by a press conference as the kingdom and its embassies abroad assertively promote the country’s recent humanitarian efforts in Yemen, including a deposit of USD 2 billion in Yemen’s Central Bank last week after an urgent appeal was made to save the currency from collapse and the country from “inevitable famine”.

Yemen’s currency slid further against the dollar late last year after the coalition blocked access to all of Yemen’s ports for several weeks in response to a Houthi missile launched at the Saudi capital.

It also comes amid mounting international criticism of the Saudi-led coalition’s role in the war, particularly civilian deaths caused by coalition airstrikes and the coalition’s control of Yemen’s ports. Yemen imports about 90 percent of the country’s staple food and nearly all of its fuel and medicine, according to the UN.

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