Aid workers are set to take vital medical supplies into conflict-hit Yemen after the Saudi-led military coalition approved the move, the International Red Cross says.
Russia and the agency have called for an urgent pause in airstrikes to allow in aid, replenish struggling hospitals and evacuate foreigners.
The coalition has been launching aerial raids in the country to repel advances by Houthi forces who have taken over large areas of Yemen over the last six months, including the capital Sana’a.
But the Red Cross says a 24-hour ceasefire is needed to deliver aid and address “dire” conditions.
The agency has been negotiating with the military for nearly a week about allowing in aid.
Spokeswoman for the charity, Sitara Jabeen, said: “We have received permission from the coalition for two planes now, one carrying supplies and one with staff.”
She hoped the aircraft could land on Monday in Sana’a.
However, the agency was still awaiting approval for a Red Cross surgical team that it plans to bring by boat into the southern city of Aden, where fighting remains intense.
The coalition says it has set up a special co-ordination body for aid deliveries and asked NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and governments to work with it to ensure humanitarian aid can be brought into Yemen and foreign nationals can be evacuated safely.
Hospitals are said to be low on medicine, with the streets of the southern port city of Aden reportedly littered with bodies.
Food and water supplies are also dwindling, according to the aid agency.
A Russian draft resolution to the United Nations demanded “regular and obligatory humanitarian pauses in the air strikes by the coalition to allow all concerned states and international organisations to evacuate their citizens and personnel”.
The UN has so far not agreed on the resolution, but officials said they hoped to have something in place by Monday.
Houthi rebels have gained ground in Aden after fierce street fighting against forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi – who has fled the country.
Witnesses said the Houthis had bombarded residential areas in Aden and set buildings on fire.
“Snipers, who took position on the roofs of provincial government buildings, targeted passers by and members of the popular committees,” one pro-Hadi fighter told the AFP news agency.
Saudi planes parachuted in weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, on Friday, but the Houthis still gained ground.
The 11-day campaign has also involved forces from Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman.
Adel al Jubeir, Saudi ambassador to the US, said sending ground troops remained “on the table”, but would not comment on claims that special forces were already in Yemen.
The conflict has pitted Shia Iran, which backs the Houthis, against Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia, its regional rival.
There are fears the fighting could escalate into a full-on sectarian civil war.