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Tue 5 May 2015 12:59 PM

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UN urges Saudi-led coalition to stop targeting Yemen airport

Saudi Arabia says the Arab alliance was considering calling truces in specific areas to allow humanitarian supplies to reach the country

UN urges Saudi-led coalition to stop targeting Yemen airport
Coalition warplanes destroyed the runway at Sanaas rebel-held airport after an Iranian plane defied a blockade on Yemeni airspace. (Getty Images)

coalition should stop targeting Yemen's Sanaa airport, the United Nations said
on Monday, as it prepared a plan to set up an air-bridge to bring humanitarian
workers into the country from Djibouti and deliver aid around Yemen.

Earlier on
Monday, the Saudi foreign minister said the Arab alliance conducting air
strikes against Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen was considering calling
truces in specific areas to allow humanitarian supplies to reach the country.

airstrikes have targeted the runways of Sanaa international airport over the
past week, rendering them inoperable," the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator
for Yemen, Johannes Van Der Klaauw, said in a statement. "No flights can
take off or land while the runways are being repaired.

strongly urge the coalition to stop targeting Sanaa international airport and
to preserve this important lifeline - and all other airports and seaports - so
that humanitarians can reach all those affected by the armed conflict in

Fighting around
Yemen has killed more than 1,000 people, including an estimated 551 civilians
since the bombings started, the United Nations said on April 24. Its children's
agency UNICEF said at least 115 children were among the dead.

Houthi fighters
have seized control of large parts of Yemen. The coalition, including nine Arab
states provided with logistical support by the United States, France and
Britain, seeks to restore the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi,
now in exile in Riyadh.

Two aid
agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Médécins Sans
Frontières, said they were extremely concerned about damage to the airports at
Sanaa and the port city of Hodeidah, lifelines that have been severed.

"The harsh
restrictions on importations imposed by the Coalition for the past six weeks,
added to the extreme fuel shortages, have made the daily lives of Yemenis
unbearable, and their suffering immense", said Cedric Schweizer who heads
a team of 250 ICRC staff in Yemen.

The U.N. World
Food Programme, which handles logistics for U.N. humanitarian agencies, said it
planned to set up an air passenger service to bring humanitarian workers in for
the next three months and to deliver aid supplies within Yemen for the rest of
the year.

It also plans
to set up an emergency telecommunications service for coordinating humanitarian
aid and to charter a ship to ferry supplies between Djibouti and Hodeidah.

A shortage of
fuel has crippled hospitals and food supplies in the past few weeks, and WFP
said its monthly fuel needs had leapt 25-fold from 40,000 litres a month to 1
million litres.

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