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Iran presents four-point peace plan for Yemen

Iran has presented a plan to the UN in a bid to end the conflict in Yemen. The proposal calls for international action to put an end to the Saudi-led airstrikes against Houthi rebels believed to be backed by Tehran.

The four-point Yemen peace plan Iran brought before the United Nations on Friday came as heavy bombing carried out by a regional coalition continued to hit the country.

Iran's proposal called for the cessation of hostilities and an immediate end to all foreign military attacks, direct delivery of medical and humanitarian aid, the resumption of political talks and the creation of a broad Yemeni unity government.

"It is imperative for the international community to get more effectively involved in ending the senseless aerial attacks and establishing a ceasefire," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in a letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

"The only way to restore peace and stability is to allow all Yemeni parties to establish, without any foreign interference, their own inclusive national unity government," the letter said.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani harshly criticized Saudi Arabia on Saturday, saying the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen was spreading chaos in the country and wider region.

"What is the meaning of ... bombing of the innocent and oppressed Yemen?" Rouhani asked, according to Iran's Fars news agency. "Does the killing of children bring you power or might you have sown the seeds of hatred in the hearts of the regional people, and there will be a response soon."

Humanitarian aid promised

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia announced Saturday that it had offered Yemen $274 million (253 million euros) in humanitarian aid. The offer, however, did not put an end to the airstrikes a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni nations started three weeks ago.

The aid, which local news agency SPA said was ordered by King Salman, followed an appeal from the United Nations to support the people of Yemen.

The kingdom "stands with its Yemeni brothers" and hopes for "the restoration of security and stability," the agency said, quoting an official statement.

Since March 26, the Saudi-led coalition has been attacking Yemen's Houthi rebels and fighters loyal to the country's ousted former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Tehran has said it supports the rebels, but denies supplying them with arms.

According to UN estimates, some 7.5 million people in Yemen require humanitarian assistance as fighting among Houthis, al Qaeda militants and loyalists to elected President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who has fled to Saudi Arabia, grows more intense. Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition have affected 18 of Yemen's 22 governorates, UN officials have said.

"Thousands of families have now fled their homes as a result of the fighting and airstrikes. Ordinary families are struggling to access health care, water, food and fuel - basic requirements for their survival," UN Humanitarian Coordinator Johannes Van Der Klaauw said in a statement.

Some 150,000 people have been displaced in the conflict, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said, citing local sources.

Clashes have also destroyed, damaged or disrupted at least five hospitals, 15 schools, Yemen's three main airports, two bridges, two factories and four mosques, as well as markets, power stations and water and sanitation facilities.

"Public water services covering 1 million people are at serious risk of collapse," the UN said.

Humanitarian aid agencies have warned the crisis could become a humanitarian disaster.

jlw/sms (AFP, AP)

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