Yemen government allows ships to enter Hodeidah for humanitarian purposes

Five tankers carrying oil and gas products could save millions of lives

FILE PHOTO: An oil tanker docks at the port of Hodeidah, Yemen October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad/File Photo
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Five ships carrying oil and gas products were allowed to enter Yemen's Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Wednesday, helping to ensure millions of Yemenis have access to humanitarian goods, a government official told The National.

It is unclear whether the ships would be able to move or dock in the port because it is under the control of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

"The move to allow five ships carrying gas and oil to enter the port was made to ease the suffering of Yemenis in Houthi-held areas and to ensure they get access to humanitarian goods," government spokesman Rajeh Badi told The National.

Two of the tankers carried a combined 45,000 tonnes of gas oil, a third was loaded with 5,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas and two others held 22,700 tonnes of fuel oil.

The internationally recognised government accuses the Houthis of controlling the distribution of supplies from the port, allowing them to decide who will benefit from foreign aid.

"We know that the Houthis would use the fuel for their own purposes and would store it for their benefits," a government official told The National.

“However, we are doing everything we can to ensure that Yemenis have access to aid,” he said.

The move came as Saudi Arabia, who is leading a coalition against the Houthis to restore the government's position in the capital Sanaa after it was removed in 2014, this week presented a peace plan aimed at ending the war.

The kingdom on Monday offered the Houthis a ceasefire deal that would include the reopening of Sanaa airport to some destinations, the resumption of talks between Yemen's warring sides, allowing additional fuel and supplies to enter Hodeidah port and supporting efforts of reconstruction and aid to the country.

The Houthis said the Saudi offer fell short of their demands and they would not resume talks until Saudi Arabia brings its military campaign to a complete halt.