Saudi-led coalition urged to end forced famine which could see millions dying of starvation in Yemen

By Leila Mohammad

The blockade of Yemen’s Red Sea ports by the Saudi-led coalition could see millions of children, women and men risk mass hunger, disease and death in the besieged country, according to top UN officials, who are urging Riyadh to allow humanitarian organizations to resume the provision of life-saving assistance to people in desperate need.

The urgent request comes in the form of a joint statement by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, WFP Executive Director David Beasley, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing, and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock[1]https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/STATEMENT%20-%20UN%20leaders%20call%20on%20the%20Saudi-led%20coalition%20to%20fully%20lift%20blockade%20of%20Yemeni%20Red%20Sea%20ports%20-%2002.12.17.pdf.

Ongoing commercial import restrictions have led to shortages of fuel, food and other essentials, driving up prices and devastating lives and livelihoods. The price of wheat flour has risen by 30 per cent, while the price of fuel has doubled and that of trucked water has skyrocketed by 600 per cent in some locations.

Urban water networks in seven cities have run out of fuel and now depend on humanitarian organizations to fill in the gap. Other cities will shortly be in a similar situation if the blockade is not lifted, which would leave 11 million people without safe water.

In other areas, people are reducing their food consumption to dangerous levels in order to pay for the rising cost of water trucking, or are turning to contaminated water sources to meet their basic needs. This further compounds the risk of disease, especially among children.

Less than half of the health facilities are functioning, and more hospitals and health centers will close should fuel and water supplies not improve. Sewage networks in six main cities are compromised, threatening a renewed spike in the country’s cholera outbreak, which has reached almost 1 million suspected cases and killed over 2,200 people.

Yemen remains on the cusp of one of the largest famines in modern times. Nearly 400,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition and face an increased risk of death. More than 8 million people could starve without urgent food assistance coming into Yemen. With 90 per cent of the country’s food imported, the lack of commercial imports through Red Sea ports would alone push a further 3 million people into starvation. The threat of widespread famine in a matter of months is very real.

This imminent catastrophe is entirely avoidable, but it requires immediate action by the coalition. While three ships carrying food have been granted permission to berth at Hudaydah port in recent days, four fuel tankers and ten ships carrying food have all been waiting for permission to enter port. Together, we call on the coalition to urgently open up all Yemeni Red Sea ports fully and to facilitate the entry and free-flow of humanitarian and vital commercial goods.

The United Nations is sending a team to Riyadh to discuss any concerns the coalition and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may have in relation to these ports. But we need the coalition to urgently grant unimpeded access for imports that are a lifeline for millions of people.

Yemen has been wracked by nearly three years of relentless conflict that has left at least 10,000 dead and nearly 8.4 million facing starvation, and another 9.4 million food insecure.

International organization have accused both sides of the conflict of using starvation as a weapon of war, which is considered a crime against humanity.

“Ports, roads and bridges, along with warehouses, farms and markets have been regularly destroyed by the Saudi-led coalition, draining the country’s food stocks,”Sajjad Mohamed Sajid, Oxfam’s Country Director in Yemen, told journalists earlier this year[2]https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2017-03-23/millions-yemen-are-being-knowingly-pushed-brink-famine. “The Houthi led authority is delaying the delivery of life-saving relief, and sometimes detaining aid workers. This, coupled with a flattened economy, has created an abyss of hunger and led 6.8 million people on the brink of famine.”

[Photo Credit: UN]

References   [ + ]

1. https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/STATEMENT%20-%20UN%20leaders%20call%20on%20the%20Saudi-led%20coalition%20to%20fully%20lift%20blockade%20of%20Yemeni%20Red%20Sea%20ports%20-%2002.12.17.pdf
2. https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2017-03-23/millions-yemen-are-being-knowingly-pushed-brink-famine

2 Responses to Saudi-led coalition urged to end forced famine which could see millions dying of starvation in Yemen

  1. nonconfidencevote says:

    A proxy “war” between Saudi Arabia and Iran where the citizens are the real “war” victims.
    And the Western world virtually ignores it.
    The Dogs of War will flock to the misery and take every advantage possible as an entire country fails.
    Another ISIS stronghold about to take shape as Western politicians dread getting involved and having their soldiers return in flag draped coffins
    And America, the former “world policeman” continues to look inward and deal with their other problems either in the Middle East or Asia.
    Eventually the world will deal with this…..another ISIS crisis.
    But thousands, maybe millions will die.
    Next stop for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
    Libya?

    • Lydia says:

      Read the Book of Revelation. Repent and help if you can through Mercy Corp and writing Congress to force saudis to stop blockades of food water and medicine. God help them and us and forgive us all.

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