CAIRO — An independent group of world leaders are calling on Saudi Arabia and its partners in a coalition fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen to lift their blockade of the war-ravaged nation to avert a humanitarian disaster.

In a Saturday statement, “The Elders” said the blockade was aggravating an already “dire” human situation in Yemen.

The statement echoed concerns by the United Nations and aid groups that the blockade could bring millions of people closer to “starvation and death.”

The coalition tightened its blockade on Yemen after the rebels fired a missile last weekend that was intercepted near the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The Saudis blamed the strike on Iran.

The Elders are a group of world figures who work for international peace. The group is chaired by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

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