UN Security Council calls on all sides in Yemen to 'de-escalate'

Supporters of Shiite Houthi rebels attend a rally in Sanaa Yemen following the killing of ex President Ali Abdullah Saleh

Supporters of Shiite Houthi rebels attend a rally in Sanaa Yemen following the killing of ex President Ali Abdullah Saleh

President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on Saudi Arabia to end its Yemen blockade immediately, citing humanitarian concerns.

He said Yemenis "desperately need it".

Heavy airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition rocked Yemen's capital Tuesday, striking Sanaa's densely populated neighborhoods in apparent retaliation for the killing of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh by the Shiite rebels who control the city. It is reported that only five people attended the funeral.

He was killed by his erstwhile Houthi allies on Monday, two days after announcing he was switching sides in the war to oppose them.

Clashes in the Yemeni capital have killed at least 234 people and wounded 400 since December 1, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Tuesday.

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On Saturday, Saleh offered to "turn a new page" with the Saudi-led coalition if it stopped attacking Yemen and ended its crippling blockade of the country. It responded by sending a slew of missiles into Yemen's capital Sanaa. Saleh loyalists accused the Houthi fighters of raiding their bases across Sana'a and beyond, an allegation that the Houthi leader has strongly denied.

Under global pressure, Saudi Arabia partially lifted the blockade, and the first aid shipments since the blockade arrived last week.

United Nations head of humanitarian affairs Mark Lowcock had said last month: "it will not be like the starvation that we saw in South Sudan earlier in the year, where tens of thousands of people were affected".

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul-Gheit meanwhile denounced Saleh's "assassination" at the hands of "criminal militias", and warned of a further escalation of the war and Yemen's humanitarian crisis.

The World Health Organisation has also confirmed that the country is facing a massive cholera outbreak, particularly affecting children; almost a million reported cases are expected by the end of the year.

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