WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump called for Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to immediately allow humanitarian aid to reach the Yemeni people, suggesting Washington had run out patience with a Saudi-led blockade that has been condemned by relief organizations.
The Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Iran-aligned armed Houthi movement in Yemen’s civil war started a blockade of ports a month ago after Saudi Arabia intercepted a missile fired toward its capital Riyadh from Yemen.
Although the blockade later eased and showed signs of breaking on Wednesday, Yemen’s situation remained dire. About 8 million people are on the brink of famine with outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria.
“I have directed officials in my administration to call the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to request that they completely allow food, fuel, water and medicine to reach the Yemeni people who desperately need it,” Trump said in a statement, without elaborating.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said the first food and fuel had arrived in Hodeidah and Saleef ports, but supplies were at a trickle compared to what was needed, since Yemen’s population of 27 million was almost entirely reliant on imports for food, fuel and medicine.
Trump’s brief, one-paragraph statement is one of the clearest signs of U.S. concern over aspects of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. Saudi Arabia has also split with Trump over his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
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Source Credit: Reuters