Yemeni children

UN warns about unprecedented famine in Yemen

Tasnim – United Nations Aid Chief Mark Lowcock warned about continuation of Yemen blockade by the Saudi-led military coalition, saying it will cause unprecedented famine in the war-torn country.

“I have told the council that unless those measures are lifted … there will be a famine in Yemen,” he told reporters on Wednesday after briefing the UN Security Council behind closed doors at the request of Sweden.

“It will be the largest famine the world has seen for many decades with millions of victims.”

He said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir earlier on Wednesday and called for an immediate resumption of humanitarian access.

Lowcock said the UN’s World Food Program was feeding seven million people a month in Yemen. “What we need is a winding down of the blockade … so that we can save the lives of those people,” he said.

“Humanitarian access through the ports was inadequate even before the measures that were announced on the 6th November,” said Lowcock, adding that there had also been no UN flights allowed into Yemen since Monday.

Lowcock called for an immediate resumption of UN and other aid flights to Sanaa and Aden, assurances from the coalition that there would be no further disruptions to those flights, and immediate resumption of humanitarian and commercial port access.

He also called for the Saudi-led coalition to allow a World Food Program (WFP) ship to be pre-positioned off Aden and assurances that there would be no further disruption to its functions and demanded that all vessels that have passed UN inspection be allowed to offload.

In the meantime, the UN Security Council expressed concern about the humanitarian situation, Italian UN Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, council president for November, said after Lowcock’s briefing.

“The members of the Security Council emphasized … the importance of keeping all Yemen’s ports and airports functioning, including Hodeidah port, as a critical lifeline for humanitarian support and other essential supplies,” Cardi said.

The Saudi-led military coalition said on Monday it had closed all air, land and sea ports to the Arabian Peninsula country in retaliation for the Yemeni army and Popular Committees missile attacks. Yemeni forces targeted Riyadh airport with a ballistic missile on Saturday.

Yemen’s defenseless people have been under massive attacks by the coalition for more than two and half years. According to the United Nations, the Saudi-led war against Yemen has pushed some seven million people to the brink of famine and left nearly 900,000 infected with cholera.