Yemen president promises UN to open to aid

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


Yemen's president on Thursday promised the United Nations to open the entire war-torn country to aid as millions of people are at risk of famine and cholera.

Addressing the United Nations, President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi urged international pressure on Huthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa and also appealed for greater humanitarian assistance.

"We in the Yemeni government are ready to provide all facilitation so that humanitarian assistance can reach anywhere in Yemen, and also the areas under the control of the Huthis," he told the General Assembly.

The United Nations has listed Yemen as the world's number one humanitarian crisis, with seven million Yemenis on the brink of famine and cholera causing more than 2,000 deaths.

Hadi did not specify how his government would allow in assistance.

Aid groups have criticized the Saudi-led coalition that supports him, which has blockaded Sanaa for more than two years since the capital was seized by Huthis, Shiite Muslims aligned with Saudi Arabia's arch-enemy Iran.

Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, last month warned of "shrinking humanitarian space" in the country, saying that both sides have obstructed aid.

Hadi in his address blamed Iran for the crisis, saying that the Shiite state had an "expansionist agenda" in the region.

"Sustained peace can only be possible if this state ceases interfering in our affairs, creating tensions and stoking feelings of hatred," he said.

More than 5,000 civilians -- over one-fifth of them children -- have been killed in the war since 2015, the UN human rights office said earlier this month.