RIYADH – A Yemeni maritime official said the Saudi-led coalition has impounded more than a dozen ships carrying energy derivatives and food destined for the conflict-plagued and impoverished Arab country, despite the fact the vessels had earlier acquired necessary permits from the United Nations.
The unnamed official at Hudaydah port told Al-Masirah television network on Wednesday that 13 ships have been marooned at the port of Jizan in southwestern Saudi Arabia. He added that the vessels had undergone inspection by the United Nations and obtained the relevant papers.
The remarks come a day after Yemen Petroleum Company announced in a statement that the Saudi-led coalition adamantly refuses to allow tankers to sail towards Yemen and offload their consignments there. The statement noted that the alliance is holding five vessels loaded with gasoline and diesel in order to increase the sufferings of Yemeni citizens.
The vessels are reportedly carrying 84,837 liters of gasoline and 53,004 liters of diesel. Back in November, the Yemeni minister of public health and population said it is estimated that every 10 minutes a child under the age of five dies from extreme hunger in the country, warning that the ongoing Saudi-led blockade is also taking a heavy toll on newborn babies.
Speaking at an event held in al-Sabeen Maternal Hospital in the capital Sana’a, Taha al-Mutawakel stated that six newborn babies also lose their lives every two hours as a result of the continued deterioration of the health situation in Yemen.
He then called on the United Nations and humanitarian organizations to clarify the fate of funds allocated for Yemen, and how they have been squandered on cars and services instead of alleviating the sufferings of Yemenis.
“Stop shedding tears for our children who get killed, whilst there is no credibility whatsoever in your international reports and they do not help assuage this tragic situation,” Mutawakel noted in an address to the United Nations.
The Yemeni health minister also stressed that the UN has so far failed to open a humanitarian medical air bridge for Yemeni civilians, who are suffering from conditions that cannot be treated inside the war-battered country.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past four and a half years.
The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.