U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought to secure a pause in Yemen’s war as he arrived in Saudi Arabia Wednesday to meet with the king and other top officials, citing increased shortages of food, fuel and medicine that are adding to a crisis that already has neighboring countries bracing for a mass exodus of refugees. He was to hold further talks Thursday.
At a news conference in Djibouti, a nearby African nation that he visited on his way to the kingdom, Kerry said the United States was deeply concerned by the worsening humanitarian conditions in Yemen. He spoke just a boat trip away from the scene of the fighting, where Iran-backed Houthi rebels were pressing on with ground offensives and Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries were continuing their month and a half long bombing campaign.
Trapped in the middle are Yemeni civilians. Aid groups say they’re struggling to reach millions of people in need in what was the Arabian Peninsula’s most impoverished state even before the war. With no end in sight to the violence, agencies are doing contingency planning for a prolonged conflict that prompts well over 100,000 Yemenis to flee for abroad.
In Riyadh, Kerry met late Wednesday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. He’ll see King Salman on Thursday.