Arab alliance to give aid to Yemeni civilians

Dr Mohammad Omar Abdullah Belfaqeeh ST PHOTO: ZHANG XUAN

Members of the Arab coalition fighting Yemeni rebels in the key port city of Hodeida will be giving out aid to Yemeni civilians.

The month-long humanitarian assistance plan will transport food to 1.6 million individuals, and benefit 235,000 families, including almost a million children, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ambassador to Singapore Mohammad Omar Abdullah Belfaqeeh told reporters yesterday.

He was giving an update on the efforts of the coalition, which has been criticised over civilian casualties, to Singapore media at a press conference at the Shangri-La Hotel.

The Saudi-led coalition of Arab states launched the attack on Hodeida last Wednesday in the largest battle of the Yemen war.

The ongoing Yemen war has triggered what the United Nations calls the world's largest single humanitarian crisis, with 22 million in need of aid and 8.4 million in danger of starvation.

Arab diplomats have said they have plans to prevent the humanitarian crisis from worsening.

Dr Mohammad Omar said: "This operation is carefully taking steps to make sure that the people in Hodeida do not suffer more.

"The operation is for them, to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and to allow the legitimate Yemeni government to take control of the port."

The UAE will provide eight ships and seven aircraft and use another 100 local Yemeni trucks to deliver the food aid to civilians, he said. They will be giving out about 380,000 baskets of food comprising wheat, rice and flour.

More than 70 per cent of Yemen's imports flow through Hodeida, and the Arab coalition has accused Yemeni rebels of confiscating aid shipments, which have found their way to the black market.

The coalition of Sunni Muslim Arab states sees Yemen's Houthi rebels, who are backed by Shi'ite Iran, as part of Teheran's expansionist efforts in the region. But the Houthis say they took power in a popular revolt.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2018, with the headline Arab alliance to give aid to Yemeni civilians. Subscribe