​Yemen suffers vital food and aid shortages as shelling continues

Reuters / Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Reuters / Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Amid constant shelling by the Saudi-led coalition, Yemen is struggling to import even essentials such as food and water, with a UN-imposed arms blockade on Houthi fighters interrupting any deliveries to the country.

Speaking at UN Security
Council closed-door consultations on the crisis in Yemen, the
United Nations envoy to Yemen warned that UN arms embargo
targeting the Houthis is having a collateral impact on aid

“Implementation of the new targeted arms embargo … could
inadvertently restrict the flow of much-needed commercial goods
and humanitarian assistance to Yemen, including food, fuel and
medical supplies,”
Jamal Benomar told reporters after the

Around 10 vessels containing food supplies for Yemen are still
waiting to enter the country’s ports, as many Yemeni sea outlets
are now being cut off by Saudis who refuse to allow any
international vessels to dock in Houthi-controlled areas.

READ MORE: Yemen rejects peace talks with
ex-president amid continuing bombing and fighting

According to the UN, the number includes three ships awaiting
clearance at Hodeida, with one carrying 13,500 tonnes of rice.
Another six ships carrying fuel, corn and construction products
are awaiting clearance from the coalition to dock at the nearby
Salifa port.

Yemen which imports more than 90 percent of its food, mainly by
sea, has been struggling to feed the population for weeks.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that at least five merchant
ships were not allowed to pass. Only two or three of those
vessels have been able to offload their cargo, ship tracking data
and shipping sources told Reuters.

“Ships with wheat need to wait up to five days for permission
to enter. Several seem to be delayed,”
a German commodities
trade source told the news agency.

Aid deliveries have also been hindered by the Saudis who have now
been engaging the Houthi forces from the air for over a month

Two Iranian cargo planes headed for Yemen were forced to turn
back by Saudi Arabia last week. On Friday Iran’s Foreign Ministry
summoned Saudi Arabia’s chargé d’affaires in Tehran to express
its protest over the move.

“We consider all options for helping the Yemeni people and
immediate dispatch of humanitarian aid and transfer of the
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and
African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Sunday.

The food that does eventually enter the war-torn country is being
moved slowly around Yemen as shortages of fuel continues, United
Nations’ World Food Programme said.

With a price tag of $10 per liter of petrol, hospitals are
suffering the worst, with the UN humanitarian agency OCHA warning
that fuel supplies to generate powers will dwindle for one more
week before running out in two weeks time.

Prices for wheat products have also skyrocketed in the country
and have risen by more than 40 percent since February. Medicine
prices have risen by more than 300 percent, the UN said.

The humanitarian situation in Yemen has become catastrophic,
humanitarian agencies said on Monday, as over 12 million people
need help, according to UN figures.

“It was difficult enough before, but now there are just no
words for how bad it’s gotten,”
said International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokeswoman Marie Claire Feghali.
“It’s a catastrophe, a humanitarian catastrophe.”

The lack of safe drinking water supply is also becoming a
widespread problem in Yemen, a country of vast sand dunes and

“There’s a consensus on water sharing across the Middle East
– since water is generally pretty scarce there. President Hadi
cut the water budget by 70 percent and that was one of the many
decisions that created the sentiment against him,”
Makki of the Syrian Youth Movement, told RT.

Meanwhile Yemen’s exiled government of President Ali Abdullah
Saleh declared three areas in Yemen as “disaster” zone.
Yemeni Human Rights Minister Izzedine al-Asbahi proclaimed that
fighting in the country has “turned Yemen back 100
due to the destruction of infrastructure. Provinces
of Aden, Dhalea and Taiz, have suffered the most, al-Asbahi told
a news conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

READ MORE: 115 children killed in month of
Saudi-led operation in Yemen – UN

Since the Saudi-led bombings started on March 26, more than 1,000
people, including an estimated 551 civilians have been killed,
the United Nations said last week. UNICEF said at least 115
children were among the dead.

“The impact on civilians is the major concern – a bombing
campaign has been happening for over a month, and a hundred of
killed civilians are children,”
Joe Stork from Human Rights
Watch told RT.

Commenting on Monday’s UN Security Council meeting, Russia’s UN
envoy, Vitaly Churkin said that the warring parties have agreed
on some measures in resolving the conflict.

“They [the warring parties in Yemen] agreed on a whole series
of arrangements for settling the political crisis. The only
remaining issue was the way the collective leadership would be
Churkin told reporters.

Last Tuesday, Saudi Arabia said the first phase of the campaign,
codenamed operation Decisive Storm, had achieved all of its goals
and was concluded. The new phase, operation Restoring Hope, was
announced with a focus on diplomacy, but didn’t rule out new
airstrikes. Less than 24 hours later, airstrikes resumed with
fighting continuing until this day.

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