A view of the Red Sea port of Hodeida, Yemen November 7, 2017.

A view of the Red Sea port of Hodeida, Yemen November 7, 2017.

UN and humanitarian agencies sound alarm on Saudi-led blockade of Yemen


The United Nations and humanitarian agencies working in war-torn Yemen are sounding the alarm over the continuing blockade of much of the country’s air, sea and land entry points by the Western-supported coalition of Gulf states, calling on them to allow lifesaving humanitarian supplies to pass to alleviate “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”

“While the Saudi-led military coalition has partially lifted the recent blockade of Yemen, closure of much of the country’s air, sea and land ports is making an already catastrophic situation far worse,” said a joint statement issued by World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Anthony Lake, and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“The space and access we need to deliver humanitarian assistance is being choked off, threatening the lives of millions of vulnerable children and families,” the statement added.

The United Nations relief wing added its voice on Friday, warning of famine-like conditions unfolding in Yemen, as a blockade on aid and other essential goods by a Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels entered its 12th day.

Over a dozen humanitarian agencies operating in Yemen said Thursday they were “outraged” by the continued blockade by the Saudi-led coalition of humanitarian and commercial supplies desperately needed for the survival of the Yemeni population.

“Ongoing obstruction by the Saudi-led coalition to the delivery of critical supplies is a measure which may amount to collective punishment of millions of Yemeni people,” said a statement signed by sixteen humanitarian agencies.

Children rest on a bed at their family hut at a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, Yemen November 12, 2017.
Children rest on a bed at their family hut at a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, Yemen November 12, 2017. © ABDULJABBAR ZEYAD

More than 20 million people, including over 11 million children in Yemen, are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, at least 14.8 million are without basic healthcare and an outbreak of cholera has resulted in more than 900,000 suspected cases, according to the UN agencies working there.

“Some 17 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from and 7 million are totally dependent on food assistance,” the statement by UN agencies said. “Severe acute malnutrition is threatening the lives of almost 400,000 children. As supplies run low, food prices rise dramatically, putting thousands more at risk.”

Since 2015, Yemen has been in a conflict between forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi supported by Saudi Arabia and most Western governments and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement, supported by Iran.

The Houthis control much of the country, including the capital Sana’a and the biggest port terminal in Hodeida. The Saudi-led coalition has accused the Houthis of smuggling weapons through Yemen’s sea, air and land entry ports and has imposed a blockade on the ports controlled by the rebels.

Yemen imports nearly 80 per cent of its food, said Kevin Dunbar, director of global programs at CARE Canada.

“Now that food aid hasn’t been able to come through these major ports, which have been blocked by the Saudis and people depend on that regular supply,” Dunbar told Radio Canada International. “So there is not enough food, fuel is not coming through as well so major cities and people are not able to use that fuel to pump clean water, and also medical supplies are running out.”

(click to listen to the full interview with Kevin Dunbar)

Cars crowd at a gas station amid fuel supply shortage in Sanaa, Yemen November 10, 2017.
Cars crowd at a gas station amid fuel supply shortage in Sanaa, Yemen November 10, 2017. © Mohamed Al-Sayaghi

CARE employees in the capital tell him that the usually bustling Sana’a has turned into a quiet ghost town, Dunbar said.

Reserves of fuel are in such short supply that the cities of Hodeida, Sa’ada and Taiz have been unable to pump clean water to residents in recent days, according to the Red Cross.

This has left one million people at risk of a renewed cholera outbreak, just as the country emerges from the worst epidemic in modern times.

The World Health Agency warns other diseases are also a threat, including diphtheria, a serious infection of the nose and throat, that’s easily prevented with a vaccine.

Humanitarian groups and the UN agencies are urging all sides to reopen without delay all of the country’s ports, including those in areas held by Houthi rebels.

Cooking gas cylinders are lined up outside a gas station amid supply shortage in Sanaa, Yemen November 7, 2017.
Cooking gas cylinders are lined up outside a gas station amid supply shortage in Sanaa, Yemen November 7, 2017. © Khaled Abdullah

They say that is the only way that UN-chartered ships can deliver the vital humanitarian cargo that the population needs to survive.

Flights from the UN Humanitarian Air Service – into and out of Yemen – should be given immediate clearance to resume, the UN and humanitarian agencies say.

“Without this blockade being fully lifted and the humanitarian assistance being able to enter into the country, people are going to starve and people are going to die,” Dunbar said.

“While people in Yemen need food and water and medical supplies, what people really need is a political end of this conflict, an end to the fighting, an end to the staggering impact this is having on everyday civilians, who are just trying to go about their lives and take care of their families.”


Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in International, Politics

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.


One comment on “UN and humanitarian agencies sound alarm on Saudi-led blockade of Yemen
  1. Peter Ashcroft says:

    It seems to me that the rulers of Saudy Arabia and Iran should be prosecuted by either the International Criminal Court, or the United Nations for ‘Crimes Against Humanity’. This also applies to the leader of the Houthis.