Among the worst atrocities of the past few years is what has happened to Yemen, but because the U.S., UK, and Saudi governments are primarily responsible for that country’s crisis, it hasn’t received adequate attention. Yemen could experience the largest famine in decades, with millions of potential victims.
The U.S. shouldn’t be bombing Yemen and it sure as hell shouldn’t be supporting Saudi Arabia bombing Yemen either. It’s much better to be a humanitarian superpower rather than a militaristic one.
Untold thousands of innocent people will die in Yemen unless the Saudi-led military coalition unconditionally lifts it blockade of the country’s ports, the heads of three UN agencies have warned.
In a powerful joint statement the heads of the World Food Programme, Unicef and the World Health Organisation said the cost of the blockade was “being measured in the number of lives that are lost”.
Supplies including medicines, vaccines and food are waiting to enter the country, the agencies said. “Without them, untold thousands of innocent victims, among them many children, will die.”
The plea follows a strongly worded statement released late on Wednesday by the UK Foreign Office that called on all parties to “ensure immediate access for commercial and humanitarian supplies to avert the threat of starvation and disease faced by millions of citizens”.
More than two years of conflict between a Saudi-led coalition and the Iranian-allied Houthi rebels have devastated Yemen, which is beset by famine and cholera.
Even with the partial lifting of the blockade, the World Food Programme estimates that an additional 3.2 million people will be pushed into hunger. If left untreated, 150,000 malnourished children could die within the coming months.
“To deprive this many from the basic means of survival is an unconscionable act and a violation of humanitarian principles and law,” the joint UN statement said.
On Wednesday Save the Children said an estimated 130 Yemeni children or more died every day from extreme hunger and disease, and that the continuing blockade was likely to increase the death rate. More than 50,000 children are believed to have died in Yemen so far in 2017, the international aid group said.
Shane Stevenson, Oxfam’s country director in Yemen, said: “If those with the power to act fail to do so, history will judge these countries as either responsible or complicit in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of people in Yemen. They need to immediately open borders, and allow the free flow of vital aid and help secure a ceasefire.”