According to a report from Reuters, the US-backed Saudi-led coalition has cleared four fuel ships to dock in Yemen’s port of Hodeidah. Sources told Reuters that the cleared vessels include two ships carrying 45,000 tons of gas oil, a ship loaded with 5,000 tons of liquefied petroleum gas, and a tanker with 22,700 tons of fuel oil.
Although the ships have been cleared, the report said that as of Wednesday morning, they have not yet begun moving toward Hodeidah.
Mohamed Abdulsalam, the chief negotiator for Yemen’s Houthis, wrote on Twitter: “The arrival of fuel, food, medical and basic needs is a humanitarian and legal entitlement of our Yemeni people. We do not accept compromising humanitarian needs for military or political conditions.”
Lifting the blockade of Yemen is a key Houthi demand for a ceasefire. Allowing a few ships to dock is likely not enough since Yemen’s civilian population is facing mass starvation due to the conditions caused by the war and blockade. The UN is warning that 400,000 Yemeni children will starve to death this year if conditions don’t change.
As of March 23rd, the Saudis were holding 14 tankers from docking in Hodeidah even though the ships had clearance from the UN. Earlier this month, a CNN investigation showed food trucks that were stranded in Hodeidah, unable to make deliveries due to a lack of fuel.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia presented a new ceasefire proposal for the war. But the Houthis said the proposal was “nothing new” since it only offered to allow certain flights into the Sanaa airport and would not fully lift the blockade.
Despite President Biden’s vows to end all US support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen, he has not pressured Riyadh into lifting the blockade, and Saudi airstrikes continue to pound Yemen. Earlier this week, the Saudis bombed a grain port.