The already Arab’s most impoverished country (Yemen) is facing the world’s worst famine in the history of 100 years, where as many as 13 Million people are put at risk of death of starvation, according the UN.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator and Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs for Yemen Lise Grande has issued the warning in an interview with the BBC yesterday.
The UN senior official Grande said the violent clashes and confrontations between Saudi-backed legitimate government forces and Houthi militia rebels, as well as the ongoing blockade of aid shipments, have created the conditions for humanitarian disaster on a scale not seen since Ethiopia in the 1980s or the Soviet Union in the 1930s.
“Several of us had confidence that it would never happen again. But the reality is that in Yemen, that’s precisely what we’re looking at,” said Grande. “We predict that we could be looking at 12 to 13 million innocent civilians who are at risk of dying from a lack of food.”
The malnutrition is already rampant, with more than 22 million Yemenis — three quarters of the population — in need of food assistance, and somewhere between 8 and 10 million going hungry every day.
What food there is available is increasingly out of reach for most Yemenis, as the collapse of the country’s currency has seen prices double in just the past month.
The civil war, now in its fourth year, has already claimed the lives of between 10,000 and 50,000 civilians — the fighting has made precise counts all but impossible — and displaced more than two million.
The Saudis and their allies from the United Arab Emirates have carried out more than 18,000 airstrikes since 2015, with increasingly deadly consequences. One monitoring project estimates that civilian deaths are up 164 per cent since the beginning of the siege of the Houthi-controlled port city of Hodeidah in June.
On Saturday, at least 17 more people — many of them women and children — were killed when Saudi planes bombed two city buses stopped at a Houthi checkpoint in the city.
Footage of the aftermath, released by the rebels, shows groceries and women’s handbags scattered around the charred and twisted wreckage. The Houthis say one family of five was among the dead.
The United Nations has condemned the attack, which has echoes of an August airstrike against a school bus that left 51 dead, reminding all sides of their duties to protect non-combatants.
“We note with anger an unacceptable pattern of attacks on civilian women, men and children by parties to the conflict who profess concern for the interests and welfare of Yemeni people,” the Norwegian Refugee Council said in a statement. “The drumbeat of assaults on men, women and children is one that has become appallingly routine. We are no longer shocked by atrocities of this kind, but are astounded at the fact that they are allowed to go on with the full knowledge of western powers funding and fueling this war.”
“In the early months of the war, the targets were primarily military,” writes Professor Martha Mundy of Tufts University in Medford, Mass. “From August 2015 there appears a shift from military and governmental to civilian and economic targets, including water and transport infrastructure, food production and distribution, roads and transport, schools, cultural monuments, clinics and hospitals, and houses, fields and flocks.”
In this wider economic war everything from livestock to storage bins to food processing centres are under attack, says Mundy.
“There is strong evidence that the coalition strategy has aimed to destroy food production and distribution in the areas under the control of [the rebel government in] Sanaa,” she concludes.