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Famine Continues to Stalk Yemen

IRIN Photos/Flickr: Mazrak camp in the tough mountainous scrublands of Yemen's north-west border with Saudi Arabia is now home to more than 10,000 people displaced by the escalating war between the government and rebels from the Huthi clan.

Fergal Keane of the BBC reports on the worsening conditions in Yemen:

Barely 50% of the funding promised by donors has actually been delivered.

The senior UN official in the country, Jamie McGoldrick, is clearly exasperated at the international response.

“The politics of the situation has overcome the humanity,” he says.

“The humanity doesn’t work anymore here. The world has turned a blind eye to what’s happening in Yemen… right now we are so under-resourced for this crisis, it’s extraordinary.”

Yemen is suffering one of the greatest man-made humanitarian catastrophes of this century, and the lives of tens of millions of people are at risk. Three million people are displaced, a million and a half children under the age of five are severely malnourished, and at least 80% of the country’s population needs humanitarian aid. The coalition blockade, the coalition bombing of critical ports, roads, and bridges, the Hadi government’s decision to move the central bank, and the war as a whole have all contributed to the disaster unfolding in Yemen. The Saudi-led intervention supported by the U.S. and Britain has undeniably made the conflict far worse and has inflicted enormous harm on the civilian population. Even when the war is over, Yemen will be suffering from the damage done to public health, infrastructure, and development for decades to come. The U.S. is not just “standing by” while this happens, but has actively supported the wrecking and starvation of Yemen for over twenty months.

Unless something changes very soon, Yemen’s plight will get even worse:

Yemen will run out of food within months and its people are “at risk of catastrophic hunger”, according to international charity Oxfam.

Food imports to the war-ravaged country are at an all time low, Oxfam has said, and by April 2017 it estimates that there will be no food left to feed millions of vulnerable people including children.

The U.N. categorizes 14 million Yemenis as being food insecure right now, and the World Food Program warns that number is set to rise to 21 million in the near future. That’s almost the entire civilian population.

Oxfam’s Mark Goldring sums up the situation:

Yemen is being slowly starved to death. First there were restrictions on imports – including much need food – when this was partially eased the cranes in the ports were bombed, then the warehouses, then the roads and the bridges. This is not by accident – it is systematic [bold mine-DL].

The U.S. needs to push for an end to the blockade, and it should be coordinating a massive relief effort to stave off the worst of the famine that now stalks most of Yemen. If that doesn’t happen, the millions that are now malnourished will keep dying in ever greater numbers. Unfortunately, I assume that this administration isn’t going to do anything to stop that from happening. They have enabled and covered for the Saudi-led coalition all this time, and I doubt they are going to change their position now.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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