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United Nations dismisses the Saudi demand to re-open the Yemen Port

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A malnourished Yemeni child receives treatment at a hospital in the port city of Hodeida

The civil aviation department of Yemen said on Tuesday that the Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting rebels in Yemen inflicted an airstrike on the Sanaa global airport, which resulted in the destruction of its navigation system.

"The flights will increase gradually in the coming days", the official said, noting Yemenia would resume its four weekly flights from Aden to Cairo, two to Jeddah and Riyadh, three to Amman and one to Khartoum.

After intercepting a Riyadh bound missile last week that was sacked by the Houthi militia, Saudi Arabia tightened their embargo on Yemen, closing all air, land and sea ports with the aim of preventing the smuggling of any weapons into Yemen.

Those ports are in Yemeni cities of Aden, Mocha and Mukalla. The three-year-long conflict has resulted in an estimated 10,000 people being killed.

"This halted the only flights at Sanaa airport - those of the United Nations and other worldwide organisations delivering humanitarian assistance", the rebel-run General Authority for Civil Aviation said.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia's United Nations ambassador said the coalition would take steps to ease the blockade but would not reopen a key rebel-held port to aid shipments unless tighter inspections were put in place.

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Jamie McGoldrick of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Tuesday the world body is aware of an announcement that the coalition was allowing deliveries to two ports in southern Yemen. "This will have no impact on our operations once they resume", Mr McGoldrick said.

While coalition announcements about the availability of two ports in southern Yemen are "helpful", the key need is access to the rebel-held Red Sea ports of Salif and Hodeida, which are now inaccessible to United Nations aid shipments.

"The first step in this process will be taken within the next 24 hours and will include and involve the reopening of all ports and airports in areas controlled by the government of Yemen".

Sammad said that with the blockade, the coalition "shut down all doors for peace and dialogue".

Aden, on the south coast of Aden, is the stronghold of the internationally recognised, Saudi-backed government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.

The Saudi-led coalition has been targeting the Houthis since they seized parts of Yemen in 2015, including the capital Sanaa, forcing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee and seek help from neighboring Saudi Arabia. On Tuesday, the United Nations called on Saudi Arabia to fully open the ports of Yemen to deliver humanitarian aid to the country.

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