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Yemen: Oxfam warns of famine disaster

June 7, 2018 at 7:33 am

Oxfam warned on Wednesday that Yemen is “one step away from famine” as fighting around the Port of Hudaydah threatened to cut off essential supplies.

“Yemen is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and is steadily slipping towards famine,” Mohsin Siddiqui, country director of the UK-based group, said in a press statement.

“If this vital route for supplying food, fuel and medicine is blocked, the result will be more hunger, more people without healthcare and more families burying their loved ones,” he added.

“There has been far too much destruction, disease and death. The international community needs to put pressure on warring parties to end the fighting and return to peace negotiations.”

The Port of Hudaydah is one of the few functioning ports in the country and one that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition has allowed aid to come through.

However, forces loyal to the Yemeni government and the Saudi-led coalition are advancing on positions held by Houthi rebels in Hudaydah.

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“The fighting has already forced hundreds of families to flee their homes,” Oxfam said.

An estimated 90 per cent of Yemen’s food and fuel is imported, in which 70 per cent comes through the Port of Hudaydah. Furthermore, Hudaydah also handles the imports of medicine and other healthcare supplies.

An estimated 8.4 million people are at risk of severe famine and more than 22 million people, 75 per cent of Yemen’s population, are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Impoverished Yemen has been wracked by conflict since 2014, when the Houthis overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies launched a wide-ranging military campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains in Yemen and shoring up the country’s Saudi-backed government.

The war has resulted in a collapsed economy and a cholera outbreak that has affected over 1.1 million people.

Riyadh has repeatedly accused the Houthis of acting as a proxy force for Shia Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-foe in the region.