Fuel running out for Yemen hospitals, United Nations warns

U.N. pleads for end of Yemen blockade or 'untold thousands' will die

Sweden called for a meeting on the crisis a week ago after the military coalition shut down Yemen's sea and air ports as well as borders in response to a missile attack by the Huthi rebels near Riyadh.

"The first step in this process will be taken within 24 hours and involves reopening all the ports in areas controlled by" Yemen's internationally recognized government, which the coalition backs, read the mission's statement. Aden had been the only such port accepting shipments recently. For ports in rebel-held or disputed territories, such as the city of Hodeida, the mission said it has asked the U.N.to send a team of experts to discuss ways to make sure weapons can't be smuggled in.

Pressing the Government in the House of Lords, Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon said: "Even allowing for the fact of jihadist terrorism, is not the greatest threat to peace coming from the Middle East now the imminent danger of a conflict between the Sunnis and the Shias, led by Saudi Arabia and Tehran, in which the West is backing one side and Russian Federation the other?"

More than 8,670 people - 60% of them civilians - have also been killed and 49,960 injured in fighting on the ground and air strikes since the coalition intervened in the war in March 2015, according to the UN. But the coalition has made little progress, and the rebels still control much of northern Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa. The more the blockade tightens, he said, the more the Houthis will develop their abilities to "respond to the assault of the enemy".

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The direct appeal to Saudi Arabia's ambassador from the United Nations chief highlighted growing frustration and alarm over Yemen's humanitarian crisis and the coalition's refusal to open up access to aid.

The missile was intercepted but Saudi Arabia and the United States both accused Iran of supplying the missile, saying it bore "Iranian markings".

Iran denies arming the Houthis and blames the two-and-a-half-year conflict in Yemen on Riyadh.

But northern Yemen, where basic medicine like insulin and cancer drugs have wholly run out, and food supplies are dwindling down to their last few weeks before outright mass starvation, will remain closed.

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