French President Emmanuel Macron has urged Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to “lift entirely the blockade” against Yemen so that humanitarian aid can be delivered to the food-deprived state.
The comments came in a phone call between the two leaders on December 24, the French presidency said Wednesday.
A Saudi-led military coalition has since 2015 been intervening in Yemen to support its internationally recognised government against Huthi rebels backed by Iran.
Air strikes and a far-reaching blockade on Yemen’s air and sea ports have massively reduced the amount of food reaching the country, heavily critical international aid organisations say.
In early November, the coalition tightened that blockade in response to a missile fired by the Shiite Huthis that was intercepted near Riyadh airport.
Mark Lowcock, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said that month unless the coalition ends a blockade of the country, Yemen will face “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims.”
The blockade was partially lifted three weeks later under massive international pressure, namely over the closure of Hodeida port — key to humanitarian and commercial deliveries.
For France, there is “no military solution to the conflict in Yemen” and it is “essential that both sides return to the negotiating table,” Mr. Macron told King Salman, the presidency added.