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A boy is treated for malnutrition in Yemen. (File Photo)
A boy is treated for malnutrition in Yemen. (File Photo)

Saudi Military Pushing Yemen Towards Famine, Starvation, Death

Mark Lowcock, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, has warned “it will be the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims”

Saudi Military Pushing Yemen Towards Famine, Starvation, Death

Yemen’s stocks of fuel will last until the end of November and stocks of vaccines run out in one month if a US-backed Saudi-led military coalition does not allow aid into Hodeidah port and  Sanaa airport, UNICEF’s representative in the country said on Friday.
Meritxell Relano, speaking by phone to reporters in Geneva, said fuel prices had risen 60% because of the shortage and there were urgent concerns about a diphtheria outbreak, as well as food shortages because of the port closure, news outlets reported.
Earlier 22 humanitarian groups had warned that Yemen had only six weeks of food aid remaining for about seven million Yemenis who are facing “famine-like conditions”.
“The humanitarian situation in Yemen is extremely fragile and any disruption in the pipeline of critical supplies such as food, fuel and medicines has the potential to bring millions of people closer to starvation and death,” they added.
The UN aid chief warned Wednesday that Yemen is facing a mass famine that will affect millions of lives unless the Saudi-led coalition ends its blockade and allows aid deliveries into the country.
Mark Lowcock, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, warned “it will be the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims.”
The UN official spoke to reporters after briefing the UN Security Council during a closed-door session on the crisis in Yemen, where the coalition has been waging a military campaign against Huthi rebels since March 2015.
The council demanded that the Saudi-led coalition keep Yemen’s air and sea ports open to aid deliveries in a country where seven million people are already at risk of famine.
Council members expressed concern about the “dire humanitarian situation in Yemen” and stressed “the importance of keeping all of Yemen’s ports and airports functioning,” Italian Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, who holds the council presidency, told reporters after the meeting.
The coalition shut down Yemen’s borders in response to a missile attack by Yemen’s Huthi rebels that was intercepted near Riyadh airport.
But the United Nations, which had already listed Yemen as the world’s number one humanitarian crisis, responded to the decision with dismay, warning that the situation was already “catastrophic” in the country.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir by phone on Wednesday and received some “indication that they will be examining the reopening of entry points into Yemen,” said Cardi.
Some 17 million Yemenis are in desperate need of food, seven million of whom are at risk of famine and cholera has caused more than 2,000 deaths.
On Tuesday, a Red Cross shipment of chlorine tablets, which are used for the prevention of cholera, was blocked at Yemen’s northern border, the International Committee for the Red Cross said.

  Immediate Access
The UN aid chief said humanitarian flights must be allowed to resume to the rebel-held capital Sanaa and to the government-controlled city of Aden.
He called for “immediate access to all sea ports” for deliveries of fuel, food and other vital supplies as well as assurances from the coalition that there will be no further disruption.
“What we need to see is a reduction of blockages on all sides, not an increase in them,” said Lowcock.
The US joined ranks with the UN and 22 aid agencies on Thursday, urging Saudi Arabia to end its blockade of Yemen.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters the US believes there should be immediate “unimpeded access for commercial and humanitarian good to get into Yemen”.
“There is tremendous food insecurity in Yemen right now, some have said that this could be the top humanitarian disaster in the world,” she said. “The Yemeni people are not the ones at fault for their situation.”
The Saudi-led Arab military coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to support president Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Huthis forced him into exile.
The Arab world’s poorest country, Yemen is almost totally dependent on imports for food, fuel and medicine.
UN aid agencies and other relief organizations have said the border closures have led to a surge in prices of many goods.
French medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Wednesday that the coalition had denied clearance for its flights for the past three days, directly hindering its ability to provide life-saving aid.
The war has had a heavy toll on civilians, killing thousands and destroying the already weak health system.

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