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France says Saudi coalition must boost aid efforts to Yemen

RIYADH (Reuters) - France’s foreign minister on Thursday called on the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen to boost humanitarian efforts for the local civilian population who required “urgent” assistance.

The heads of three U.N. agencies urged the Saudi-led military coalition on Thursday to lift its blockade on Yemen, warning that “untold thousands” would die if it stayed in place.

“We spoke about the humanitarian situation and the measures that needed to be taken so that international aid can quickly get to the Yemeni population that have an extremely urgent need,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a news conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel Jubeir.

“The coalition led by Saudi Arabia has taken the first measures that now need to be followed up and amplified.”

Saudi Arabia is involved in a two-year-old war in neighboring Yemen and has been criticized for blocking humanitarian aid.

In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Jubeir accused the Iran-aligned Houthis of besieging civilian areas and preventing supplies from coming in or out.

Reporting by Stephen Kalin; writing by John Irish; editing by Leigh Thomas