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Arab coalition announces $1.5bn aid package for Yemen

Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiah (C), adviser at the Saudi Royal Court and General Supervisor of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the meeting of foreign ministers of the member states of the Saudi-led coalition battling rebels in Yemen, in the Saudi capital Riyadh. (AFP)
RIYADH: Foreign ministers of the Saudi-led Arab coalition have announced a new $1.5 billion humanitarian aid package for Yemen.
The coalition met in Riyadh on Monday after the recent escalation in Houthi ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia.
“The coalition will coordinate ... $1.5 billion in new humanitarian aid funding for distribution across UN agencies and international relief organizations,” the coalition announced in a statement.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said in the opening statement: “Saudi Arabia has been the target of over 91 Houthi ballistic missiles.”
He blamed the militia for hardships ordinary Yemenis are facing: “The Houthis are responsible for the destruction in Yemen.”
The extensive aid plan was announced to help ease the suffering of the Yemeni people and ensure fair distribution of the aid.
The plan includes a six-flights-per-day airbridge of C-130 cargo planes filled with supplies to Maarib.
After the meeting, coalition spokesperson Col. Turki Al-Maliki, King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) head Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, the Saudi and UAE ambassadors to Yemen and the UAE representative took questions regarding the plan.
The latest aid package, which follows last week’s $2 billion Saudi cash injection to Yemen’s central bank, comes amid an ever-broadening crisis in the country.
The new program seeks to open land, sea and air lanes to Yemen to boost monthly imports to 1.4 million metric tons from 1.1 million last year, the statement said.
The estimated number of Yemeni people in need of humanitarian help is close to 21 million, 10 million of whom are in dire need.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE will present $1 billion to the plan for Yemen humanitarian aid in 2018.
Since 2015 the Kingdom has delivered $8.1 billion in humanitarian assistance as well as $2 billion in development aid.
To facilitate the delivery of aid to the interior parts of Yemen, the coalition will set up 17 safe-passage corridors originating from six points.
The coalition also said it would also “increase the capacities of Yemeni ports to receive humanitarian” imports.
Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al-Jaber said: “When the Houthis launch missiles at Saudi Arabia they expect a big reaction, and that is true, our reaction is huge, and that is to increase our help and aid to the Yemeni people.”
Coalition spokesperson Col. Turki Al-Maliki echoed his words. “The Houthis try to provoke the coalition through their missiles and their attacks, but we fight back by giving more humanitarian aid to our brotherly country Yemen.”
“The coalition is placing its military resources at the disposal of these broad-ranging humanitarian operations,” Al-Maliki said. “We are backing a professionally planned and detailed humanitarian mission with military power and precision to guarantee that the humanitarian aid reaches the people who need it to lift their suffering.”

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