‘It’s a Slow Death’: The World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis

Shuaib Almosawa, Ben Hubbard, Troy Griggs

After two and a half years of war, little is functioning in Yemen.

Cholera in Yemen


Repeated bombings crippled bridges, hospitals and factories. Many doctors and civil servants have gone unpaid for more than a year. Malnutrition and poor sanitation have made the Middle Eastern country vulnerable to diseases that most of the world has confined to the history books.

In just three months, cholera has killed nearly 2,000 people and infected more than a half million, one of the world’s largest outbreaks in the past 50 years.

“It’s a slow death,” said Yakoub al-Jayefi, a Yemeni soldier who has not collected a salary in eight months, and whose 6-year-old daughter, Shaima, was being treated for malnutrition at a clinic in the Yemeni capital, Sana.

Since the family’s savings ran out, they had lived mostly off milk and yogurt from neighbors. But that was not enough to keep his daughter healthy, and her skin went pale as she grew thin.

Like more than half of Yemenis, the family did not have immediate access to a working medical center, so Mr. Jayefi borrowed money from friends and relatives to take his daughter to the capital.

“We’re just waiting for doom or for a breakthrough from heaven,” he said.
How did a country in a region with such great wealth fall so far and so fast into crisis?

A Collapsed State

Many coalition airstrikes have killed and wounded civilians, including strikes on Wednesday around the capital. The bombings have also heavily damaged Yemen’s infrastructure, including a crucial seaport and important bridges as well as hospitals, sewage facilities and civilian factories.

 

Yemen


Services that Yemenis have depended on are gone, and the destruction has undermined the country’s already weak economy. It has also made it harder for humanitarian organizations to bring in and distribute aid.

The Saudi-led coalition has also kept Sana’s international airport closed to civilian air traffic for more than a year, meaning that merchants cannot fly goods in, and sick and wounded Yemenis cannot fly abroad for treatment. Many of them have died.

Neither of Yemen’s two competing administrations has paid regular salaries to many civil servants in over a year, impoverishing their families as there is little other work to be found. Among those affected are professionals whose work is essential to dealing with the crisis, like doctors, nurses and sewage system technicians, leading to the near collapse of their sectors.

The Devastation of Cholera

Damage from the war has turned Yemen into a fertile environment for cholera, a bacterial infection spread by water contaminated with feces. As garbage has piled up and sewage systems have failed, more Yemenis are relying on easily polluted wells for drinking water. Heavy rains since April accelerated the wells’ contamination.

 

Cholera in Yemen


In developed countries, cholera is not life-threatening and can be easily treated, with antibiotics if severe. But in Yemen, rampant malnutrition has made many people, particularly children, especially vulnerable to the disease.

“With the malnutrition we have among children, if they get diarrhea, they are not going to get better,” said Meritxell Relano, the United Nations Children’s Fund representative in Yemen.

Outside a cholera clinic in Sana, Muhammad Nasir was waiting for news about his 6-month-old son, Waleed, who had the disease. A poor agricultural laborer, Mr. Nasir had borrowed money to take his son to the hospital but did not have enough to return home even if the baby recovered. “My situation is bad,” he said.

Five tents had been erected in the backyard of the cholera ward to cope with the sudden increase in patients. All day, families brought sick relatives. Most were elderly, or children carried on their parents’ backs.

If infection numbers continue to rise, researchers fear that the cases could ultimately rival the largest outbreak, in Haiti, which infected at least 750,000 people after a devastating earthquake in 2010.

Aid organizations say they cannot replace the services that the government is supposed to provide. That means there is little chance for significant improvements unless the war ends.

 

Yemen


“We are almost in the third year of the war and nothing is getting better,” said Ms. Relano of UNICEF. “There are limits to what we can do in such a collapsed state.”

The United Nations has called the situation the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with more than 10 million people who require immediate assistance. And the situation could become even worse.

Peter Salama, the executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, warned that as the state fails, “the manifestation of that now is cholera, but there could be in the future other epidemics that Yemen could be at the center of.”

Source: The New York Times, Edited by website team

24-08-2017 | 13:16

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Awamia Declares State of Emergency, But Who Really Cares?

Zeinab Daher

As if is not enough for the people of Awamia to be under continuous heavy bombings, that the Saudi regime started forcing them out of their homes. But what if a person has nowhere to go to?

 

Awamia Declares State of Emergency, But Who Really Cares?


Some three months earlier, the restive town enjoyed a peaceful atmosphere. However, once upon a thought, the Saudi regime decided to raze the historical neighborhood of Awamia, in the Qatif eastern province. Under the alleged pretext of ‘developing’ the area, which is indeed to chase wanted activists, the regime is starving the Shia population there, blocking their access to phone and electricity services, and lately displacing them to nowhere.

It was before three months that the government summoned the neighborhood’s residents to pay them undue compensations so they would leave their houses. The majority of people neither accepted the measure, nor did they go to take their money. Their rejection was because the government warned them that in case anybody was killed in the area, the regime won’t be responsible!

 

Awamia Declares State of Emergency, But Who Really Cares?


Facing a popular resistance to give up on residential areas, the Saudi government started tightening its grip on Awami people. Its escalatory measures ranged between blocking electricity service, phone and internet services, besieging the town and blocking entrances and exits with cement blocks, and most lately bombing houses over their residents.

As part of the worst tragedies in modern history, the Saudi regime troops forced locals to leave Awamia and raise white flags on their way out, then proceed to harass them and loot their homes.

 

Awamia Declares State of Emergency, But Who Really Cares?


However, those same people are not only being attacked by their own government, but by their nationals as well. Many of property owners are trying to abuse the situation and are refusing to offer them a paid shelter unless they pay for three months in advance.

Although many others are offering them houses for free, the previous behavior makes any person feel as if he/she is a stranger in their homeland. Until Friday, Awamia citizens were calling for necessary aid such as bread, milk and diapers for their babies.

 

Awamia Declares State of Emergency, But Who Really Cares?


By sacrificing several lives of its youth, Awamia has become one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the oil-rich dictatorship. Awamia however is never seen, never heard and never felt by the entire world! We still haven’t heard the voices of those kindhearted ‘people of good will’ who always express their concerns and solidarity with the smallest of human rights violations all over the globe.

As if Awamia, and the entire eastern province are not part of this planet to grab the attention of the free people to stand up for its support…

Al-Ahed

29-07-2017 | 13:49

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Unicef Fears Yemen Cholera Outbreak Could Hit 300,000 in Coming Weeks

Cholera in Yemen

June 3, 2017

Cholera cases in Yemen could quadruple in the next month to 300,000, the regional director of Unicef said Friday, calling the spread of the disease in the war-ravaged country “incredibly dire.”

Speaking by phone after visiting Yemen, the agency’s regional director, Geert Cappelaere, said he had never seen a cholera outbreak of that size in the country, which already is contending with the risk of a famine and a collapse of the health care system because of the war.

Half the cholera cases in Yemen belong to children, Mr. Cappelaere said, and parents have little recourse because many hospitals and clinics are closed or lack supplies.

Mr. Cappelaere, who was named Unicef’s director for the Middle East and North Africa last year, worked for the agency in Yemen from 2009 to 2012. This was his first trip since then back to the country, poorest in the Arab world.

“We are responding to a major crisis without having the basics,” he said. “The reality is incredibly dire.”

Cholera, a bacterial disease spread by water contaminated with human waste, causes potentially fatal dehydration if left untreated. It has been expanding at an alarming rate in Yemen for the past month, from a few thousand cases to roughly 70,000. Most areas of the country are affected, Mr. Cappelaere said.

Unicef, also known as the United Nations Children’s Fund, has provided clean water to roughly one million people, rehydration kits and other medicine to help fight the outbreak. Like other aid groups, it has implored combatants in the conflict to pause so that more can be done.

Mr. Cappelaere said Unicef was calculating that without significant intervention, “within a few weeks’ time” the number of Yemen cases could reach 250,000 to 300,000.

“Cholera doesn’t need a permit to cross a checkpoint or a border, nor does it differentiate between areas of political control,” he said in a statement released by Unicef about his visit.

Yemen has been since March 26, 2015 under brutal aggression by Saudi-led coalition.

Thousands have been martyred and injured in the attack, with the vast majority of them are civilians.

Riyadh launched the attack on Yemen in a bid to restore power to fugitive ex-president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who is a close ally to Saudi Arabia.

Source: Websites

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Power crisis hits Gaza hospitals as Israel tightens siege on sick

Source

8 May 2017

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is growing more dire against the dimming possibility of a reconciliation between the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority controlled by Mahmoud Abbas, and the Islamist movement Hamas, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, has warned.

UNSCO says the friction between the competing Palestinian regimes that operate under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip “have aggravated an already difficult situation in the Gaza Strip.”

One consequence is that for the last three weeks, Gaza’s electricity crisis has become even more severe, forcing hospitals to curtail services in an attempt to preserve limited fuel supplies.

The World Health Organization warned that all of Gaza’s public hospitals may be forced to suspend critical services, putting thousands of lives at risk.

These growing tensions culminated on 27 April, when the Palestinian Authority decided that it would no longer pay for the electricity Gaza receives from Israel.

Hamas called the move “a grave escalation and an act of madness.”

“Gaza will not kneel for collaborators with the occupation,” Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesperson, posted on Twitter.

PA pressure on Hamas

The step is likely part of the PA’s decade-long effort to force Hamas to cede control in Gaza. Hamas won parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2006, but was never allowed to fully assume power over the Palestinian Authority.

A partially successful US-backed putsch led to the split, with Abbas remaining in control of the PA in the West Bank, and Hamas controlling the interior of Gaza.

The Abbas-controlled PA works closely with Israeli occupation forces, while Hamas has continued to engage in armed resistance.

In early April, Abbas said he would take “unprecedented steps in the coming days to end the division” between the West Bank and Gaza.

The PA imposed sharp salary cuts on civil servants there, leading to mass protests. But Rami Hamdallah, the PA prime minister in Ramallah, said, as the BBC reported, that “the salary cuts would stay in place until Hamas moved towards reconciliation.”

Last week, Hamas announced a new charter ditching anti-Jewish language and formally accepting, as Abbas does, a two-state solution with Israel.

It also announced on Saturday that Ismail Haniyeh, its former prime minister in Gaza, has been elected as the movement’s overall leader.

One Israeli analyst suggested in the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz that Abbas’ crackdown on Gaza was part of an attempt to keep Hamas isolated and to curry favor with the new US president. Abbas met Donald Trump at the White House last week.

Hospitals at “minimal capacity”

Meanwhile, Gaza’s economy has been devastated by a 10-year Israeli blockade and repeated military assaults.

In mid-April, Gaza’s only power plant ran out of fuel after a three-month supply funded by Turkey and Qatar was depleted.

The PA has refused Hamas’ requests to reduce or eliminate the heavy taxes on diesel that fuels Gaza’s power plant, a provision UNSCO supports.

Gaza receives just over half of its electricity from Israel which has until now been paid for by the Palestinian Authority.

“Palestinians in Gaza, who live in a protracted humanitarian crisis, can no longer be held hostage by disagreements, divisions and closures,” Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said.

Gaza is already operating on a severe energy deficit. Its daily supply of electricity from Israel, Egypt and its sole, partially functioning power plant totals only 210 megawatts, while the population of two million requires 450 megawatts per day.

The shortfall means that people in Gaza without backup generators must function with no electricity for 12 to 18 hours a day.

While international assistance has managed to barely keep hospitals open by ensuring they have enough fuel for generators, Gaza’s precarious situation is clear.

Hospitals are currently working “at minimal capacity,” the UN humanitarian coordination agency OCHA reported last month.

Another dire health and environmental consequence is that faced with a lack of energy for water treatment, waste plants are discharging more raw sewage into the sea.

No exit for many

Emergency fuel supplies are only guaranteed through May, forcing hospitals to postpone surgeries and refer more patients outside Gaza, potentially exposing them to life-threatening delays or Israeli attempts at blackmail.

According to UNSCO, since 15 September 2016, Israel has significantly reduced approvals for Palestinians to leave Gaza, including patients.

Last December, Israel approved fewer than 42 percent of applications to leave Gaza for medical care, the lowest rate since 2009, according to UNSCO.

Meanwhile, Egypt kept the Rafah crossing, the only outlet for most of Gaza’s residents, completely closed for the entire month of April.

Letting Israel off the hook

UNSCO acknowledges that Israel’s blockade is responsible for severe impairment in every sector in Gaza, including education, health and agriculture, and urges the “international community” to support the lifting of Israel’s siege.

Yet it still presents the closure as a security measure for Israel.

UNSCO notes that this year marks 10 years of Israel’s closure on Gaza, which UNSCO describes as a response to Hamas’ “violent” takeover in 2007.

As well as ignoring the context of the intra-Palestinian fighting, this timeline ignores that the cut in exit permits began in the mid-1990s, sharply falling after Israel withdrew its settlers from Gaza in 2005.

In the face of the evidence that its prospects have all but vanished, UNSCO continues to insist that the “international community” commit to a two-state solution.

It notes that in the occupied West Bank, Israel’s construction of illegal settlements has surged since last September while the land where Palestinians live is shrinking.

The report confirms that it is “virtually impossible” for Palestinians to obtain building permits in Area C of the West Bank – the 60 percent of the occupied West Bank over which Israel exercises full control. More than 90 percent of applications for building permits are rejected by Israeli occupation forces.

Meanwhile, Israel continues to develop settlements in Area C.

UNSCO acknowledges that Israel’s settlements violate international law, but pointedly fails to call for any sanctions or consequences.

“It is critical that recent international initiatives to advance the prospects for peace translate into a legitimate process to end the occupation and achieve a final settlement to the conflict,” UNSCO implores.

What UNSCO does not explain is how such a “process” would occur in the complete absence of measures to hold the occupying power accountable.

 

Yemen war: More than half of British people unaware of ongoing conflict seeing UK weapons deployed by Saudis

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Image result for Yemen war: More than half of British people unaware of ongoing conflict seeing UK weapons deployed by Saudis

More than half of British people are unaware of the “forgotten war” underway in Yemen, despite the Government’s support for a military coalition accused of killing thousands of civilians.

A YouGov poll seen exclusively by The Independent showed 49 per cent of people knew of the country’s ongoing civil war, which has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced three million more and left 14 million facing starvation.

The figure was even lower for the 18 to 24 age group, where only 37 per cent were aware of the Yemen conflict as it enters its third year of bloodshed.

More than 2,100 people were given a list of 16 countries and asked to identify any “currently involved in an ongoing armed conflict” for the research, with 84 per cent naming the Syrian civil war.

The Human Appeal, a Manchester-based charity that commissioned the poll, warned a lack of international awareness was worsening a worsening humanitarian crisis in the Yemen.

“The crisis in Yemen has been forgotten about or ignored completely,” said CEO Othman Moqbel.

“We believe this is because that the conflict has not generated a huge amount of refugees coming to Europe and there is the misperception amongst the public that it’s only a regional crisis.

“To treat what is currently happening in Yemen, and has been happening for two years, as something insignificant is turning a blind eye to the escalating humanitarian emergency.”

At least 75 people are estimated to be killed or injured every day in the conflict, which has pushed the country to the brink of famine as 14 million people lack a stable access to food.

Almost 3,800 civilians have been killed by the conflict, where President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi’s government is fighting Houthi rebels and fighters loyal to the former President, President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The conflict started in March 2015 after an opposition offensive drove the government out of the capital Sana’a, sparking an intervention by Saudi Arabia and its allies to support the internationally recognised government.

The UN human rights office said the Saudi-led air campaign, seeing rebel-controlled areas heavily bombarded, was responsible for 60 per cent of civilian deaths – almost 2,300 lives.

British-manufactured weapons, including cluster bombs, have been used in the strikes, despite calls by MPs to suspend sales to Saudi Arabia over war crimes allegations.

Peter Salisbury, a senior research fellow in the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, said Britain was the principal sponsor of a UN Security Council resolution used by Saudi Arabia to justify its intervention.

“The UK is also a huge arms supplier and provides a great deal of logistical support to Saudi forces,” he told The Independent.

“Arguably the UK has also given political coverage to the Saudis by preventing various resolutions and investigations from happening.”

theresa-may-saudi.jpg
Theresa May meeting King Salman of Saudi Arabia in December at a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Bahrain (Getty)

Mr Salisbury said that while opposing the attempted coup in Yemen, the British Government was “quiet” about the military overthrowing Egypt’s elected government in 2013.

“The decision was made that Yemen was a ‘bad coup’,” he added. “And that in many ways comes down to where allies sit.”

Iran supports Houthi forces in Yemen, with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies supporting the Hadi government.

As battles continue, the Human Appeal is among international charities attempting to provide aid to Yemen’s impoverished population.

It has provided food parcels to thousands of families, clean drinking water for 37,500 people, blankets, clothing and healthcare projects including supporting the Al Jumhori public hospital.

Hundreds of Somali refugees who originally fled conflict in their home country are among those caught up in the violence in Yemen, with more than 40 massacred by a helicopter gunship as they attempted to flee on a boat on Thursday night.

While the humanitarian situation deteriorates, the conflict has largely reached a stalemate, with rebels controlling much of densely populated western Yemen, the Hadi government in the centre and east and pockets of territory held by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsuala (AQAP), Islamist militias and Isis.

yemen-rubble.jpg
Yemenis inspect damaged houses following reported Saudi-led coalition air strikes on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital Sanaa (Getty)

But the UN Refugee Agency has warned of intensified hostilities in recent weeks, forcing more than 62,000 people from their homes in western and central Yemen, who are now sleeping in public buildings, tents, on the streets or in ruined buildings.

Calling Yemen a “forgotten war”, Mr Salisbury said neither a peaceful resolution nor an outright victory for any party was likely in the near future.

“The Trump presidency could see US play a more decisive role,” he added, although American forces have mainly been targeting AQAP terrorists, including in a botched raid that killed dozens of civilians earlier this year.

“Yemen is not an island, it is connected to other countries and the rest of the world and we’re seeing this massive growth in sectarian violence.

“All of these things have long-tern consequences for countries outside of Yemen.”

The British Government stresses that although it the Saudi-led intervention “to deter aggression by the Houthis and allow for the return of the legitimate Yemeni Government”, it is not part of the coalition.

“British personnel are not involved in carrying out strikes, directing or conducting operations in Yemen, nor involved in the Saudi targeting decision-making process,” a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told The Independent

“Peace talks are the top priority. The UK has played a leading role in diplomatic efforts, including bringing together key international actors to try and find a peaceful solution.”

The UK is the fourth largest donor to Yemen, committing £103 million in humanitarian aid last year.

Saudi Arabia, member of UNHRC blocks Yemen’s largest port to stop humanitarian aid

Saudi Arabia’s Blockade Of Yemen’s Largest Port Expected To Worsen Humanitarian Crisis

UN elects Saudi Arabia to Human Rights Council

Despite a warning from the UN to end its existing blockades of Yemeni ports, a Saudi-led coalition is planning another major assault on the nation’s largest port city of Al Hudaydah, a move that threatens to worsen Yemen’s already unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

 

A Yemeni man looks at a World Food Program ship at the port of Aden, Yemen

A Yemeni man looks at a World Food Program ship at the port of Aden, Yemen, Tuesday, July 21, 2015.

MINNEAPOLIS – While the Syrian conflict has long dominated international coverage of Middle Eastern crises, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been continually overlooked by the mainstream media. Since March 2015, the nation has been in a state of chaos following the overthrow of former Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was installed by the United States and Saudi governments, by a grassroots political movement led by the Houthis.

Following the Houthi-led coup, Saudi Arabia essentially invaded Yemen, eager to maintain control over the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait, a critical area for the region’s oil trade. The Saudis’ efforts to maintain their undue influence in Yemeni politics and maintain hegemony over a key oil route has now manifested as a war effort bordering on genocide — one that has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people, most of them civilians. In addition, more than a third of Saudi airstrikes in the nation are believed to have destroyed civilian targets.

Despite the severity of the crisis, as well as Saudi Arabia’s apparent penchant for bombing hospitals and civilian infrastructure, the U.S. has remained unusually silent, essentially turning a blind eye in the face of repeated war crimes committed by its ally. The U.S. has involved itself militarily in Yemen to aid in the Saudis’ destruction of their southern neighbor, launching missiles and – more recently – botched raids that claimed the lives of numerous civilians, including an eight-year-old U.S. citizen.


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The U.S. has also enabled the Saudis to commit war crimes in Yemen by continuing to sell them millions of dollars in weapons, despite their documented tendency to attack and bomb civilians. While the U.S. has been quick to accuse other nations of similar atrocities in Syria, it has been eerily silent, as well as complicit in, the crimes committed by Saudi Arabia.

The combination of minimal media attention, as well as tacit U.S. support for the Saudi war effort, has Yemen on the verge of collapse. According to the NGO Save the Children, tens of thousands of children in the embattled nation are dying due to the collapse of the country’s health care system. Since Saudi Arabia first invaded, more than 270 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed, many directly by the Saudis.

In addition, more than half of Yemen’s estimated 3,500 health facilities are closed or barely functioning, leaving nearly eight million Yemeni children without access to adequate health care, resulting in the deaths of nearly a thousand children every week, according to estimates.

But the health crisis is only part of the suffering that has become a daily reality for Yemenis. Famine is also taking its toll, with an estimated 19 million people – two-thirds of Yemen’s entire population – in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. More than half of the nation is suffering from a lack of adequate nutrition, according to UN estimates, with more than 370,000 children under the age of five suffering from severe malnutrition.

Much of the famine is preventable, as it has largely manifested as a direct result of the Saudis’ naval blockade of key Yemeni ports. Recent changes to Yemen’s central bank also threaten to rob many Yemenis of their capacity to purchase what little food is still available in the country.

In this Tuesday, March 22, 2016 photo, infant Udai Faisal, who is suffering from acute malnutrition, is hospitalized at Al-Sabeen Hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Udai died on March 24. Hunger has been the most horrific consequence of Yemen’s conflict and has spiraled since Saudi Arabia and its allies, backed by the U.S., launched a campaign of airstrikes and a naval blockade a year ago. (AP Photo/Maad al-Zikry)

In this Tuesday, March 22, 2016 photo, infant Udai Faisal, who is suffering from acute malnutrition, is hospitalized at Al-Sabeen Hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Udai died on March 24th. Hunger has been the most horrific consequence of Yemen’s conflict and has spiraled since Saudi Arabia and its allies, backed by the U.S., launched a campaign of airstrikes and a naval blockade two year ago. (AP/Maad al-Zikry)

Despite UN pleas to the Saudis to end their blockades, the Saudis and their anti-Houthi coalition have announced plans to assault Al Hudaydah, Yemen’s largest port city. Catherine Shakdam, associate director of the Beirut Center for Middle Eastern Studies and an expert on Yemen, told MintPress that “government officials in Hodeida have already confirmed an increase in attacks in Yemeni waters” as a result of the latest Saudi-led assault. She added that “fishermen have been shot at for trying to feed their families and drones have been spotted doing what is believed to be reconnaissance work.”

Shakdam added that this assault is only the most recent effort by the Saudis to cripple the strategic port city, remarking that the Saudis are “determined to punish civilians in the hope they will rise against the resistance movement and defeat its forces from the inside.”

Russia’s foreign ministry condemned the Saudis’ latest plan to cripple the Houthi movement, saying that the operation “would not only inevitably lead to a mass exodus of the [local] population but would also de facto cut the [Yemeni] capital of Sanaa from… food and humanitarian aid supplies.” The U.S. has yet to comment on the plan, but its silence thus far already speaks volumes

Save the Children: Saudi Delaying Yemen Aid is «Killing Children»

Samuel Osborne

Children have died as a result of Saudi Arabia delaying aid for Yemen by months, a children’s rights group have warned.

Yemeni children

Save the Children said shipments of aid are being delayed for months, denying hundreds of thousands of people access to urgently-needed medical aid.

In the first two months of the year, the Saudi-led coalition has prevented three of the charity’s shipments of medical supplies from landing at the country’s main group of Hodeida, the group said, forcing them to be rerouted and delaying their arrival by up to three months.

The shipments were carrying enough aid to help around 300,000 people, including antibiotics, surgical equipment, medicine to treat diseases like malaria and cholera, and supplies to support malnourished children.

In the latest example, a two-ton shipment of Save the Children’s medical supplies and equipment held off the coast of Hodeida then forced to reroute by the Saudi-led coalition.

The ship, carrying supplies for 40,000 people including 14,000 children under the age of five, arrived in the smaller port of Aden 83 days later.

Supplies often have to cross active conflict zones from Aden, putting both the supplies and humanitarian staff at risk.

Grant Pritchard, interim country director for Save the Children in Yemen, said: “These delays are killing children. Our teams are dealing with outbreaks of cholera, and children suffering from diarrhea, measles, malaria and malnutrition.

“With the right medicines these are all completely treatable – but the Saudi-led coalition is stopping them getting in. They are turning aid and commercial supplies into weapons of war.

He added: “The British public has generously donated millions of pounds to a DEC appeal for Yemen, quite understandably expecting aid would reach people in need as quickly as possible.

“To see the Saudi-led coalition blocking shipments of humanitarian supplies is simply unforgivable. The UK Government must do more to make sure aid for Yemen gets where it needs to go.”

A United Nations official visiting both sides in Yemen’s war urged them to guarantee more access to the country’s ports to let in food, fuel and medicine imports.

At least 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting that has unleashed a humanitarian crisis on the impoverished country. Fighting in or near ports hampers access for aid coming from outside.

Earlier this month, the UN said Saudi-led coalition air strikes on the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, … had hampered humanitarian operations to import vital food and fuel supplies.

Five cranes at the port have been destroyed, forcing dozens of ships to line up offshore because they cannot be unloaded.

Nearly 3.3 million people in Yemen – including 2.1 million children – are acutely malnourished, the UN says. They include 460,000 children under age of five with the worst form of malnutrition, who risk dying of pneumonia or diarrhea.

The Saudi embassy in London could not be reached for comment.

Source: The Independent, Edited by website team

02-03-2017 | 08:43

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