January 16, 2018 / 11:04 AM / 3 months ago

CORRECTED-UN hopes imports will help "stave off famine" in Yemen as diphtheria spreads

(Corrects first paragraph to say port, not cranes, authorised to operate until Jan 19)

GENEVA, Jan 16 (Reuters) - The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has authorised the Yemeni port of Hodeidah to remain open until Friday, United Nations aid agencies said on Tuesday, calling for the date to be extended to permit continued offloading of life-saving goods.

“We appeal to parties on ground in order to stave off famine that we can continue regularly to get food, medicines in, be it from the humanitarian or the commercial side,” Bettina Luescher of the U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP) told a Geneva briefing. A diphtheria outbreak in Yemen is “spreading quickly”, with 678 cases and 48 associated deaths in four months, Fadela Chaib of the World Health Organisation said, adding that a vaccine campaign had begun in the country.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Larry King

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