UN quietly steps up inspection of aid ships to Yemen

GENEVA: The United Nations is beefing up its inspections of ships bringing humanitarian aid to Yemen to ensure that no military items are being smuggled and to speed delivery of desperately-needed relief supplies, UN and Saudi officials say.
The move comes as the armed Ansar Allah movement controlling much of northern Yemen steps up attacks on the kingdom, hitting a Saudi oil tanker on Tuesday. A Saudi-led coalition said overnight that Riyadh’s air defence had intercepted a missile which Ansar Allah said was aimed at storage tanks belonging to Saudi Aramco oil company.
Under an arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council, monitors from the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) are based in ports such as Djibouti, Dubai and Jeddah to observe screening of cargo destined for Yemen.
“We met with the UNVIM director and his team in Riyadh and we agreed on improved and enhanced capability,” Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed S al Jabir told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday. He said UNVIM would increase its inspectors to 10 from four and its monitors to 16 from six and would also improve its technology to inspect ships.
The team supporting the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Lise Grande confirmed on Thursday those steps taken to increase the number of monitors and inspectors and the use of scanning equipment.
A major UN pledging conference on Yemen was held this week, drawing pledges of more than $2 billion towards a $3 billion UN humanitarian appeal.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which lead coalition air strikes in Yemen in support of the internationally-recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, have contributed $930 million.
“We are cooperating with the UNVIM and other UN organisations to facilitate and to increase the amount of ships that arrive to Hodeidah port,” Jabir said, referring to Yemen’s main port for humanitarian and commercial goods, under Ansar Allah control.
 — Reuters