Yemen has been torn by nearly two years of civil war that has pitted the Iran-allied Houthi group against a Western-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia.
Nearly 3.3 million people in the country – including 2.1 million children – are acutely malnourished, according to the UN.
Amid warnings of a looming famine, one of the organisation’s most senior aid officials has urged both sides in the country’s conflict to guarantee access to the country’s ports to allow supplies of food, fuel and medicine in.
Kristine Beckerle is a Yemen and Kuwait researcher for Human Rights Watch. She has told Euronews the time to act is now.
“On top of a devastating, nearly two year-long war, Yemen is now home to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Millions are on the brink of famine, more than two-thirds of the entire population are struggling to feed themselves and nearly half a million children are suffering from severe and acute malnutrition. The UN estimates that a child now dies in Yemen every ten minutes from a preventable disease.”
“Despite these horrifying statistics, the warring parties in Yemen continue to delay, impede or obstruct the delivery of humanitarian aid and assistance to populations in need. The Saudi-led coalition has imposed an aerial and sea blockade on Yemen since the start of the war, which has included diverting or delaying shipments of essential supplies from Yemen’s main seaport and refusing to allow commercial flights into Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.”
“At the same time, the Houthi-Saleh forces that control much of the north of the country and whom the coalition is fighting have imposed ad hoc, excessive and arbitrary restrictions on humanitarian actors, blocked the important of essential goods on a number of occasions, and harassed, detained and intimidated humanitarian staff as they try to do their important work in the county.”
“The time to act is now. The international community should be properly funding the humanitarian response in Yemen and making crystal clear to the warring parties that their obligation is to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid, and that any obstructions – on the part of the coalition or the Houthi-Saleh forces – will not be tolerated.”