UNITED NATIONS- UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, on Tuesday expressed concern about insufficient commercial imports, particularly food, to Yemen.

"We remain very concerned about commercial imports through all of Yemen's ports, most particularly (the Red Sea ports of) Hudaydah and Saleef," Lowcock told the Security Council.

Before the war, Yemen relied on imports to cover 90 percent of staple food and nearly all its medicine and fuel needs, he said. "Commercial shortages and delays at ports have led to sharp increase in the price of food and household necessities. Ports are the lifeline of Yemen."

Price increases, especially of food, are forcing hundreds of thousands of destitute families to turn to humanitarian assistance for their very survival, he said.

The United Nations is encouraging all those concerned to accelerate the normalisation of commercial shipments into Hudaydah and Saleef, as well as, to Yemen's other ports, he said. "We are worried that shipping companies are reluctant to enter Yemeni waters."

The reasons are related to problems with foreign exchange and the banking sector, as well as, the ports, but the result is that, insufficient food is being imported, he explained.

Lowcock also voiced concern over the fact that Sanaa airport remains closed to commercial traffic. The closure of the airport is preventing thousands of critically ill patients from travelling abroad, to seek treatment unavailable in Yemen, he said. Military activities conducted in the proximity of the airport over the last month have affected humanitarian flights.


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