UNITED NATIONS-- The UN Security Council on Thursday called on all parties to the conflict in Yemen to allow and facilitate safe, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access to all affected areas.

In a statement, the council expressed concern over the impact that access restrictions on commercial and humanitarian imports have on the humanitarian situation.

It called on the parties to immediately facilitate access for these essential imports into the country and their distribution in order to reach the entire civilian population.

The Security Council called for the full and sustained opening of all Yemen's ports and stressed the importance of keeping these functioning and open to all commercial and humanitarian imports, including food, fuel and medical imports.

The council also called for increased access to Sanaa airport for life-saving humanitarian supplies and movement of urgent humanitarian cases.

The council reaffirmed that denial of humanitarian access can constitute a violation of international humanitarian law.

It noted that 22.2 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance, 3.4 million more than last year.

The council voiced deep concern about the acute vulnerability of civilians to outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria, in light of acute malnutrition, the threat of famine and the weakness of Yemeni institutions.

The council called on all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, to avoid harming civilians, and to end the recruitment and use of children in conflict.

The council condemned "in the strongest possible terms" ballistic missile attacks by the Yemeni Houthis against Saudi Arabia, with particular concern for the attacks on Nov. 4 and Dec. 19, 2017, which deliberately endangered civilian areas.

It called on all UN member states to fully implement the arms embargo as required by relevant Security Council resolutions.

The council condemned the use of sea mines by non-nation state actors, including Houthi forces, and expressed deep concern that mines are prone to break free of their moorings and drift into international shipping channels, and thus represent a threat to commercial shipping and sea lines of communication.

The Security Council emphasized that the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of an inclusive political solution and called on all parties to the conflict to abandon preconditions and engage in good faith with the UN-led peace process in order to overcome obstacles and reach a political solution to the conflict.