The U.N. warns that the scale of the famine in Yemen has been underestimated in the past:
“The crisis in Yemen is so huge and of such magnitude, we have to be frank about whether we can together deal with what is facing us,” said Lise Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen. “We are literally looking at hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of people who may not survive.”
Food prices have been rising rapidly with the collapse of Yemen’s currency, and millions more are now at risk of starving that had not been counted in the earlier estimates. Conditions in Yemen are already appalling, and they continue to worsen. Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council released a statement earlier this week addressing the threat of famine:
Civilians in Yemen are not starving, they are being starved. Let it be known that the worst famine on our watch is wholly manmade by Yemen’s conflict parties and their international sponsors [bold mine-DL].
The Times reported on the same story yesterday:
Between 12 and 13 million lives will be threatened by hunger over the next three months under a blockade led by Saudi Arabia, which the UN views as a potential war crime.
The Saudi coalition has already caused many tens of thousands of deaths by creating the conditions for starvation and disease, and the death toll from preventable causes is likely going to shoot up dramatically if the war is not brought to a halt at once. Along with the effects of the blockade on food prices, the Hadi government’s relocation of the central bank to Aden has made it practically impossible for many importers to bring food staples into the country:
In addition, importers of basics such as cooking oil, rice, sugar and butter have been prevented from entering the country due to restrictions imposed by Yemen’s central bank based in Aden, territory controlled by its exiled government.
Sen. Chris Murphy calls attention to the Saudi coalition’s policy of deliberately starving Yemen’s population in a new op-ed:
A new research report notes that “there is strong evidence that Coalition strategy has aimed to destroy food production and distribution.” (Translation: They are actively trying to starve the country into submission.) Saudi Arabia is delaying and obstructing aid shipments and critical commercial goods such as food, fuel and medicine. Saudi warplanes target water infrastructure, hospitals and health clinics. But still our assistance continues, putting an American imprint on every civilian casualty in Yemen.
The findings of the report Sen. Murphy cites are consistet with Iona Craig’s reports on the systematic targeting of Yemen’s food production and distribution from last year. The evidence of the Saudi coalition’s cruel collective punishment of Yemen’s civilian population has been out there for a long time, and it is long past time that the U.S. stop supporting these governments as they commit crimes against humanity. The best way to prevent the worst famine in generations from devouring millions of innocent lives is to halt U.S. support for the war, demand an end to the blockade, and provide economic and humanitarian relief to save as many people as possible.