US President Donald Trump called on Saudi Arabia to immediately lift the blockade of Yemen and allow in food, fuel and medicine, citing humanitarian reasons. The move comes a day after the UN called for a ceasefire.
“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 issued by the White House on Wednesday. “This must be done for humanitarian reasons immediately.”
A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting in Yemen since March 2015, seeking to restore the ousted President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Unable to defeat the loyalists of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, aided by Houthi rebels the Saudis claim are backed by Iran, the coalition has imposed a blockade on Yemen.
The war and blockade has plunged Yemen into a major humanitarian disaster, leaving 20 million people in need of aid. More than 11,000 civilians are feared to have been killed in the conflict.
Trump’s call comes a day after United Nations called for a “humanitarian” stop to to airstrikes and fighting in Yemen, in order to to allow for the delivery of aid to civilians trapped in the capital Sanaa.
Saleh was killed on Monday after he tried to break off the alliance with the Houthis and negotiate with the Saudi coalition. US-backed Saudi coalition forces renewed their attacks on Sanaa in order to back up Saleh’s supporters. Violent clashes in the capital have resulted in at least 125 deaths this week, AP reported citing aid groups.