Yemen: humanitarian aid is on its way

The decision to partially lift the restriction on Sana’a’s airport and some seaports was made after international pressure was applied

Yemen: humanitarian aid is on its way

Saudi Arabia has lifted its blockade over Yemen, thus allowing four airplanes of humanitarian organizations like those of the UN, UNICEF, and ICRC, to arrive at the country’s capital, Sana’a. The aid includes vaccines, medications, food, and specialized personnel. At the same time, an announcement has been made by the coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, about the reopening of the Hudaydah port to allow the arrival of ships with more international help.

The decision to partially lift the restriction on Sana’a’s airport and some seaports was made after international pressure was applied in order to provide assistance to the civilian population. The United Nations and other organizations made a cry for help for the Yemeni people who have not had the arrival of supplies or external personnel during the last couple of days paving the way to what seems the greatest famine in the country’s history.

“Together, we issued another urgent appeal for the coalition to allow vital supplies into Yemen in response to what is now the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Supplies, including medicines, vaccines and food, are essential to prevent the outbreak of disease and famine”, declared a joint press release of the UNICEF, WHO, and the WFP, in which they requested that restrictions on incoming aid be completely withdrawn.

Despite the request of ONG’s, Saudi Arabia has declared that the ports will be utilized to verify that they are not being used for trafficking weapons by the Houthis rebels. This is one of the main reasons why, on November 6th,said country and the other nations of the coalition, imposed sea, land, and air transportation obstructions over Yemen in response to an intercepted missile launched from the Middle Eastern territory directed to Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, on October 4th.

Since the restriction was carried out, the humanitarian situation in Yemen has deteriorated to the point that several organizations have reported that at least 20 million people need aid. The conflict and the difficulty to import goods have caused prices of basic foods and fuel to raise 60%, according to ACNUR. This is critical because the nation depend on imports like rice, wheat, and sugar. In fact, the total imports represent 25% of its total GDP, according to the World Bank data. Due to the increase of prices, families are no longer able to purchase basic foods, nor domestic gas leading to higher levels of hunger and malnourishment in children.

Shortage of drinking water has raised the number of cholera sprouts up to two thousand, according to UNICEF.  Likewise, the sewer system stopped operating because of the fuel shortage, increasing the risk of diseases. "As a result, nearly one million people are now deprived of drinking water and sanitation in densely populated urban environments, in a country that is emerging little by little from the worst cholera epidemic in modern times”, stated Alexandre Faite, head of the delegation of the ICRC.

The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is associated with the religious divisions of Islam, the Shiites and the Sunnis, as well as geopolitical factors related to the economic and military influence in the region. This has led two countries to confront each other in external conflicts.

Saudi Arabia has offered support to the Sunni communities like the government of Yemen or the rebels who oppose the government of Bashar al-Asad in Syria. Meanwhile, Iran has offered support and armament to the Houthis in Yemen and the Shiite government of Iraq.  After the mishap with the missile directed to Riyadh, the tension among the regional powers has grown as Saudi Arabia mentioned serious consequences for Iran due to the military aggression and act of war. However, Iran has denied their involvement in the attack. The country’s foreign affairs spokesman Bahram Qasemi said that the accusations made by the coalition are inadmissible, irresponsible and provocative.  

 

Diana Cárdenas | Latin American Post

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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