Yemen Facing Chances of Having World’s Worst Famine In Decades Amidst Saudi Blockade

By Aishwarya Rai, International News Editor

On November 12, the Guardian reported that seven million people were on the verge of famine in Yemen. The war-torn nation already faced the world’s worst cholera outbreak, and now Saudi Arabia’s blockade has worsened its conditions. Hundreds of thousands of children in Yemen are currently suffering from acute malnutrition. More than 20 million (approximately 70% of the population) need humanitarian assistance which is being withheld.

Al-Thawra hospital is currently under immense pressure from a non-stop flow of patients coming from five surrounding governorates. The patients are victims of the conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and Iranian-allied Houthi rebels. The hospital is currently treating around 2,500 people a day; prior to the conflict’s escalation in March 2015, the number was 700. Most of Yemen’s medical facilities have been closed due to fighting, a lack of funds, or having been bombed by airstrikes. The current rate of operation is 45% of all of the nation’s facilities.

Saudi Arabia’s blockade is on Yemen’s land, sea, and air ports. Saudi deems this measure necessary after Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile towards Riyadh’s international airport earlier this month, according to The Guardian. However, aid agencies believe that Yemen’s humanitarian crisis could become a “nightmare scenario” should Saudi persist with this degree of backlash. UN aid chief stated that at this current rate, Yemen will endure “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades.” Aid agencies have been blocked from entering the country: United Nations humanitarian flights had been cancelled for the past week. The International Committee of the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières have been prevented from flying-in necessary medical assistance.

On November 12, however, ports in Aden and Mukalla—two of the major ports—were reopened for commercial traffic and food supplies. Land border crossings to Oman and Saudi Arabia were also allowed, but aid remains shut out.

 

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 21st print edition.

Contact Aishwarya at

aishwarya.rai@student.shu.edu

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