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Macron Presses S. Arabia to Lift Yemen Blockade

Riyadh has imposed a tight blockade on nearly all Yemeni air, land and sea ports, prompting human rights and charity groups to sound the alarm over the deteriorating situation in the country
Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron called for a “complete lifting” of a blockade on Yemen in a telephone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Dec. 24, an Elysee source said on Wednesday.

“The president expressed his strong concerns about the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen and called on the Saudi king to lift completely the blockade to allow humanitarian aid and commercial goods to enter Yemen,” the source said, Reuters reported.

The Saudi-led coalition joined the Yemen war in 2015 to reinstall the fugitive president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a Riyadh’s ally.

Riyadh has imposed a tight blockade on nearly all Yemeni air, land and sea ports, prompting human rights and charity groups to sound the alarm over the deteriorating situation in the country as people, particularly children, are increasingly suffering from the lack of food and medical aid.

Last month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “very much disappointed” that the Saudi-led coalition is refusing to lift its blockade of Yemen.

The United Nations has listed Yemen as the world’s number one humanitarian crisis, with 17 million people in need of food, seven million of whom are at risk of famine.

Yemen is also battling one of the world’s worst outbreaks of cholera that has left nearly one million people ill and killed 2,200 people.

  20 Civilians Killed

Meanwhile, at least 20 people are reported to have been killed and dozens more wounded in a series of Saudi-led air raids on a market in southwestern Yemen.

Sources told Al Jazeera that Tuesday’s coalition raids struck Souk al-Shahra, a popular market in a Houthi rebels-held area of Taiz Province, about 200km southwest of the capital, Sanaa.

At least 13 civilians were killed and another 17 injured, one source said, adding that at least 10 rebel fighters were also among the fatalities.

Another source said that body parts were thrown hundreds of meters from the blast sites.

Relatives of some of the victims were unable to identify their charred remains.

Al Masirah, a TV network run by the Houthi leadership, put the number of casualties at more than 50, adding they could still rise further.

It published photos on its website showing bombed-out motorcycles and shops, and the remains of what were dismembered civilians.

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