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The Ongoing Starvation of Yemen

The AP reports on the starvation of Yemen and its terrible effects:

The spread of hunger has been the most horrific consequence of Yemen’s war since Saudi Arabia and its allies, backed by the United States, launched a campaign of airstrikes and a naval blockade a year ago. The impoverished nation of 26 million people, which imports 90 percent of its food, already had one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world, but in the past year the statistics have leaped.

The number of people considered “severely food insecure” — unable to put food on the table without outside aid — went from 4.3 million to more than 7 million, according to the World Food Program. Ten of the country’s 22 provinces are classified as one step away from famine.

Where before the war around 690,000 children under five suffered moderate malnutrition, now the number is 1.3 million. Even more alarming are the rates of severe acute malnutrition among children — the worst cases where the body starts to waste away — doubling from around 160,000 a year ago to 320,000 now, according to UNICEF estimates.

Aid groups have been warning about the Saudi-led coalition blockade’s destructiveeffects on the civilian population for months, but the near-famine conditions that have been created by the intervention have otherwise received very little attention in international coverage of the war. The blockade is doing the most severe damage to the civilian population, but it is the least-noticed and least-criticized part of the Saudi-led campaign. It is also by far the most indefensible thing that the Saudis and their allies have done since they began their war a year ago. The blockade is not only depriving the civilian population of the food and medicine they need to survive now, but its effects are also wrecking the well-being of Yemenis for years to come. UNICEF estimates that thousands of young children have already died from preventable diseases on account of the shortages of food and medicine:

Nearly 10 million children require humanitarian aid to prevent a further deterioration. Chronic malnutrition can stunt growth and development.

“UNICEF estimates that nearly 10,000 children under 5 years may have died in the past year from preventable diseases,” it said, citing lower vaccination rates and declines in treatment.

Nothing that the Saudis and their allies are trying to accomplish in Yemen can possibly justify what they are doing to the civilian population of Yemen, and U.S. support for their campaign–including the blockade–gets more outrageous by the day.

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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