Teresa Sancristoval of Doctors Without Borders calls for the lifting of the Saudi-led blockade of Yemen:
As the devastation of Yemen demonstrates, the need to end hostilities is as urgent as ever. But even if the temporary cease-fire takes hold, it will amount to little improvement in the lives of average Yemenis unless the Saudi-led coalition’s blockade of vital imports, including food and fuel, is also lifted.
While an end to the bombing and fighting could allow for aid to reach combat-affected areas and for wounded civilians to be evacuated, it would only partially address the dire and increasing needs of Yemen’s civilians.
The Saudis and their allies have been strangling Yemen and depriving its civilian population of food, medicine, and fuel for over seven weeks now. I have mentioned this several times, but it can’t be emphasized enough. All of this has had a terrible effect on the people on Yemen, but it is especially the fuel shortage that is endangering so many lives. As Sancristoval explains, that is not only because a lack of fuel prevents the delivery of aid, but also because it makes it impossible for Yemenis to get access to their own water supplies:
Fuel is essential for life everywhere. In Yemen, it is especially crucial for ensuring the supply of water. At the best of times, Yemen has among the lowest per capita rates of water consumption in the world. In many cities, water must be drawn from deep wells, using pumps powered by electricity or diesel fuel. Without fuel, there is no water.
The water-pumping system in Sanaa has only 20 percent of the fuel necessary to supply the city’s population. We surveyed the price of water in several areas of the city between March 15 and the first week of May and found the price of water had on average more than doubled. In parts of the city, it is impossible to buy water because the gas tanks of delivery trucks are empty, too.
Further, the lack of fuel makes it practically impossible for the sick and injured to reach hospitals, and it makes it increasingly difficult for the hospitals to function properly. The blockade exacerbates every evil effect of the Saudi-led war on Yemen, and it inflicts enormous harm on the entire civilian population the longer that it remains in place. Starving Yemen’s civilian population of the basic necessities of life is cruel, inhumane, and completely indefensible, and it needs to be brought to an end. The blockade is being maintained by U.S. client governments, so the U.S. should be insisting that the blockade be lifted permanently.