SHAFAQNA – Beyond air raids, gun battles and port blockades, food is now a “weapon of war” in Yemen, the UN’s World Food Programme said on Sunday, as millions face impending famine.
“Yemen is on the brink of famine. Cholera is compounding a dramatic food crisis. Food is being used as a weapon of war,” WFP assistant executive director Elisabeth Rasmussen said at a conference on aid to Yemen.
The Yemen conflict has claimed more than 8,650 lives since 2015.
Long the most impoverished country in the Arab world, the conflict in Yemen has left seven million people at risk of famine and an estimated 17 million — 60 percent of the overall population — food insecure, according to the United Nations.
Another 2,100 people have died of cholera since April as hospitals struggle to secure basic supplies amid blockades on ports and the country’s main international airport.
The Saudi-led coalition was this month added to a UN blacklist for the “killing and maiming of children”.
Aid groups have warned that the closure of Sanaa international airport is hampering the delivery of desperately needed supplies, which now have to go through the Red Sea port of Hodeida.
“All parties to the conflict must provide safe, rapid, unhindered and sustained humanitarian access to people in need, through all ports and airports, in particular through Hodeida port and Sanaa airport as well as by road,” said Mark Lowcock, UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs.
“People in positions of authority in Sanaa regularly deny access to humanitarian agencies and have arbitrarily delayed or denied dozens of requests for humanitarian personnel to enter the country,” Lowcock said.
Riyadh’s deadly campaign has seriously damaged Yemen’s infrastructure. Local Yemeni sources have put the death toll from Saudi airstrikes at over 12,000 people.