EXCLUSIVE – Yemen at War: Lifesaving aid blocked by airstrikes

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SHAFAQNA – The Saudi Arabian-led assault on Yemen has disrupted life-saving aid programs across the country, international aid agencies have said.

The provision of humanitarian aid to many Yemeni regions was already difficult as the country has slid closer to civil war following the takeover of the capital Sana’a in September by northern Houthi rebels. But on Thursday morning, a Saudi-led alliance of eight countries began bombing key Houthi targets in Sana’a and other cities.

Since then the United Nations and other aid agencies have been forced to suspend many key programs. International NGOs and the UN are seeking to evacuate their international staff, with several hundred still in the country. All commercial flights out of the country have been suspended since the Saudi attacks began.

Trond Jensen, head of the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen, said he was “extremely concerned” that vital aid was being suspended across the country. “In a conflict our ability to stay and deliver is badly affected,” he said.

Yemen, which has a population of just under 26 million, is the Arab world’s poorest country. Almost two-thirds of the population was already in need of aid before the crisis, while over 10 million are food insecure.

The Houthi takeover had already led to the suspension of key financial support to the country, while millions of dollars of development aid was suspended.

Jensen said that the country’s dire economic situation was likely to be made worse by the suspension of key humanitarian aid. “Vulnerable people will be pushed over the edge,” Jensen added, agreeing that the country was in a perfect storm of crises.

He said, however, that the UN would seek to continue to deliver some humanitarian aid remotely.

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