Yemeni children

Yemen facing world’s worst famine amid Saudi aggression, blockade

Alwaght– Millions of people will die in Yemen, in what will be the world’s worst famine crisis in decades, unless Saudi-led aggressors end devastating blockade the United Nations has warned.

The Saudi-led military alliance engaged in an illegal aggression on Yemen tightened its air, land and sea blockade of the country after a retaliatory ballistic missile was fired on Saturday towards the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Since then, the country’s already inflated food and fuel prices have skyrocketed, while flights delivering much-needed humanitarian aid have been prevented from landing.

After briefing the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Mark Lowcock, the UN’s humanitarian chief, said the move will worsen a “catastrophic” humanitarian crisis that has pushed millions to the brink of famine and has caused a mass cholera epidemic.

“I have told the Council that unless those measures are lifted … there will be a famine in Yemen,” Lowcock, who visited Yemen late in October, told reporters on Wednesday.

Worse than South Sudan, Somalia famines

“It will not be like the famine that we saw in South Sudan earlier in the year, where tens of thousands of people were affected. It will not be like the famine which cost 250,000 people their lives in Somalia in 2011,” he added.

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

Despite Lowcock’s stark warning, the Security Council, which strongly condemned the firing of the missile by Yemeni forces, announced no immediate action over the blockade.

Calling for a five-point action plan, Lowcock on Wednesday urged the Saudi-led coalition to reopen the airspace for humanitarian flights into Yemen and provide assurances that access would not be disrupted again.

He also called for an agreement to allow a World Food Programme ship to anchor off the Yemeni coast, the re-opening of all seaports, to allow food, fuel and medical supplies to enter the country, and a “scaling back of interference” with vessels that have “passed inspection by the UN verification and inspection mechanism”.

15 humanitarian organizations voice concern

Earlier on Wednesday, 15 humanitarian agencies expressed deep concern about the Saudi-led blockade, demanding that humanitarian operations are allowed to resume immediately.

“In less than a day, this blockade already hiked up fuel prices in some governorates by as much as 60 percent as people scramble to stock up, and led to disruption of public transportation,” the groups, including Oxfam, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee, said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia and a coalition of its allies have been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush the popular Ansarullah movement and reinstate former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime. More than 13,000 people have been killed since the onset of the campaign.

Yemen’s cholera outbreak, world’s worst on record

Meanwhile, Yemen’s cholera outbreak has killed at least 2,177 people since 27 April. The World Health Organization now estimates the number of suspected cholera cases to be over 862,000, as of 22 October, making Yemen’s outbreak the world’s worst on record.

he spread of the outbreak, which has quickly surpassed Haiti as the biggest since modern records began in 1949, has been exacerbated by hunger and malnutrition. While there were 815,000 cases of cholera in Haiti between 2010 and 2017, Yemen has exceeded that number in just six months.

Late October Yemen’s army spokesman Brigadier General Sharaf Luqman said that Saudi Arabia is responsible for the current cholera epidemic among Yemen’s vulnerable population as Saudi fighter jets continue to spread biological agents in the air, which subsequently contaminate water supply systems.

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