Published: Thu, November 09, 2017
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Blockage in Yemen would cause millions of victims, largest starvation in decades

Blockage in Yemen would cause millions of victims, largest starvation in decades

Yemen could face "the largest starvation the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims", if the Saudi Arabia-led coalition does not lift the blockade on the war-torn country, a senior United Nations aid official said Wednesday.

Mark Lowcock, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, on Wednesday urged the Saudi-led coalition to lift its blockade of the conflict-torn country, the BBC reported.

Lowcock, who visited Yemen late last month, briefed the UN Security Council behind closed doors at the request of Sweden.

The coalition shut down Yemen's borders in response to a missile attack by Yemen's Huthi rebels that was intercepted near the Riyadh airport. "What we need is a winding down of the blockade ... so that we can save the lives of those people", he said.

In response to the Houthis' missile assault, a Saudi-led coalition announced it has closed all ports in Yemen as of Monday, sparking United Nations concerns as all humanitarian flights have also been grounded, with trucks stuck at crossings and ships carrying basic necessities like fuel, wheat and other food have been ordered to leave.

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 conflict has led to a humanitarian disaster in the country.

The UN warned that the shut-down of the ports could exacerbate the already hard humanitarian crisis, as the war has already brought the country to the brink of starvation. Besides, the cholera outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people over five months.

The UN aid chief said humanitarian flights must be allowed to resume to the rebel-held capital Sanaa and to the government-controlled city of Aden.

He also called for the coalition to allow a 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 United Nations inspection be allowed to offload.

A Saudi-led offensive, which began in 2015, targeted pushing back Houthi advances but has been dogged by widespread allegations of global law violations.

The Arab world's poorest country, Yemen is nearly totally dependent on imports for food, fuel and medicine.

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