The Financial Times have said that Britain risks being complicit in the use by the Saudis of starvation as a weapon of war. It said the Saudi air force has destroyed bridges, roads, markets and container ports. The infrastructure breakdown means that food is reaching the hungry “fatally slowly”, and that was before the Saudis decided to block even humanitarian aid. The 900,000 cholera cases are the worst the world has ever seen.
The UN says two-thirds of Yemen’s 28m population face shortages of food and clean water. A staggering 7m are now on the brink of famine. The war itself has claimed an estimated 10,000 people. But starvation is certain to be a greater killer. Mark Lowcock, the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, last week said the continued closure of borders to aid shipments would threaten ‘the largest famine the world has seen for many decades’. The blockade, which Saudi Arabia appears to have partially lifted at the weekend, is tantamount to a war crime.”
Save the Children predicts that 50,000 Yemeni children under 5 will die by the year end.
The UN said that hospitals in Yemen could run out of fuel and vaccines in three weeks. The Saudis have been blockading Hodeida port which is the main supply route for food, fuel and medical supplies into the poorest areas. In 2015 Saudi aircraft bombed the port and destroyed cranes and warehouses. The Saudis are preventing the delivery of 4 replacement cranes, paid for by the US.
The International Committee of the Red Cross have said that as a result of the blockade, which has stopped imports of fuel, "The water and sewage systems have stopped operating, close to one million people are further deprived of clean water and sanitation, leading to a renewed risk of cholera and other water-borne diseases. Hospitals face regular power outages.
The former UN Humanitarian chief Sir Stephen O’Brien said “This is the World’s largest humanitarian crisis, and it is all completely avoidable.” “There is not going to be a military solution to be fought to the end, the only solution to the crisis is a political solution, a compromise”. “The UK was not being aggressive enough, given its position as a member of the permanent five at the UN Security Council, where, as such, it has the biggest influence, to initiate and draw attention to action that Security Council can bring to bear to seek such a solution to end the suffering of the Yeminis .”
London and SE Region UNA are urging all UNA members to write to their MPs calling upon them to:
Lobby the Foreign Secretary to urge him to:
- Bring immediate pressure to bear on Saudi Arabia to allow full access to aid and commercial supplies to all areas in Yemen
- Use all means at his disposal, including our permanent membership of the Security Council, and direct FCO contact, to initiate peace talks and establish a peace process between the warring parties
- To suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia if it fails to (a) lift all restrictions on commercial and humanitarian imports of food, medical supplies, fuel etc. (b) allow vessels to enter ports as quickly as is practical and without undue restriction and (c) allow the four large US supplied cranes to offload at Hodeida
Contact: Neville Grant, Hon Secretary London and SE Region: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Tippell, email@example.com, 07970868508