Riyadh (AFP) – Aid will be allowed into strife-torn Yemen when conditions are right, the Saudi-led military coalition said Saturday after the Red Cross urged a 24-hour ceasefire to address ‘dire’ conditions.
“The humanitarian operation is part of our job, part of our responsibility,” Brigadier General Ahmed Assiri told reporters on the 10th day of coalition air strikes against Houthi rebels and military loyal to former President Ali Saleh.
The operation has closed airports and restricted movement at seaports, hampering aid deliveries.
Hospitals treating the wounded are running low on medicines and the streets of the southern city of Aden are strewn with bodies, the International Committee of the Red Cross said, calling for “an immediate halt to the fighting”.
It added that food stocks are running low and there are fuel and water shortages.
Assiri said aid “will come when we are able to set the conditions (so) that this aid will benefit the population”.
He said the coalition requires that aid delivery does not interfere with the military operation, that aid workers are not put at risk, and that supplies do not fall into the wrong hands.
“We don’t want to supply the militias,” Assiri said. The coalition aims to defeat the Houthi rebels who seized power in the capital Sana’a in February, and who Riyadh feared would take over the entire country and shift it into the orbit of Shiite Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.