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UN slams Saudi Arabia for turning back oil tankers from Yemeni port

The United Nations has hit out at Saudi Arabia and pro-Riyadh forces in Yemen for preventing four oil tankers from reaching the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah.

According to Press TV, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Thursday that the vessels were turned back last week en route to Yemen’s Hudaydah, which is controlled by the Ansarullah movement.

The tankers were said to have been carrying just over 71,000 metric tons of fuel, which represents more than 10 percent of Yemen’s total monthly fuel needs.

“At a time when Yemen is facing an unprecedented cholera outbreak and millions of its people are at risk of falling into famine, it is essential that all ports remain open and any delays are avoided,” said OCHA Spokesman Russell Geekie.

It was not clear why the tankers were stopped.

Hudaydah is a “lifeline” for Yemen, a conflict-ridden country that is 80 percent dependent on imports.

A few months ago, Saudi Arabia threatened to attack the port city, with the UN saying it was “extremely concerned” over the potential assault.

On Wednesday, the UN warned that the catastrophic situation in Yemen is turning into a combination of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis amid almost daily Saudi bombardment of the impoverished Arab nation.

More than 1,900 people have died from cholera in Yemen and 400,000 cases have been reported since April, when the outbreak began.