The Saudis Are Still Blockading and Starving Yemen
AFP reports on the ongoing blockade of Yemen’s main port by the Saudi-led coalition:
The status of Hodeida, the country’s largest seaport and gateway to the majority of its aid-dependent population, offers a window into the nation’s dire plight.
In February, food imports were half of the monthly national requirement, according to the United Nations agency for humanitarian affairs.
The world body said those food shipments, critical to a nation on the verge of famine, were “the lowest” since the UN began inspecting cargo in May 2016 [bold mine-DL].
The once-bustling port of Hodeida now receives a trickle of deliveries, with some ships entering only to remove empty containers and haul them away.
“Hodeida should be supporting more than 20 million Yemenis. It should be the source of at least 70 percent of all imports to Yemen,” Suze van Meegen, a protection and advocacy adviser with the Norwegian Refugee Council, told AFP.
“Instead it’s like a wasteland.” [bold mine-DL]
The coalition delays or diverts commercial ships bound for Hodeidah, and then the ships that are permitted to dock have to contend with the reduced capacity of the port to offload goods. Coalition airstrikes destroyed the port’s cranes three years ago, and only very recently have smaller replacement cranes been allowed in after being blocked for almost the entire duration of the war. Unfortunately, the new cranes are not as large or effective as the cranes that the coalition destroyed, so unloading what does manage to make it into the port takes even longer. The “de facto blockade” has had the effect of driving more than eight million people to the brink of famine and has caused widespread malnutrition for millions more. This is the result of the Saudi-led coalition policy that the U.S. has been uncritically supporting for three years.
The Saudis and their allies have done their best to prevent the delivery of essential goods into Yemen in their effort to starve the country into submission, and their interference has resulted in extensive shortages of fuel and huge increases in the price of food. The coalition blockade is the principal cause of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which is far and away the world’s worst crisis and threatens the lives of millions of innocent civilians. The fuel shortage compounds every other problem in the country: Yemenis need the fuel for generating electricity to keep lights on, pump clean drinking water, refrigerate vaccines and medicines, and obviously for transportation and distributing goods. Blocking commercial imports of fuel makes it difficult if not impossible to combat the spread of preventable disease, and it further drives up the prices of goods around the country. The only way to avert more loss of life in Yemen is to lift the blockade and to deliver sufficient quantities of food, clean drinking water, and medicine to address the population’s profound plight.