Some 15 million Yemenis have had their water supplies cut exposing them to deadly diseases like cholera due to a fuel crisis, according to a report by the aid agency Oxfam.
Major cities such as Ibb, Dhamar and Al-Mahwit have seen their central water systems completely shut down.
It is believed that 11 million people who rely on water supplied by piped networks and four million others who depend on water brought in by trucks by private companies have had to drastically reduce their daily consumption because of rising fuel prices last month. Aid agencies like Oxfam have also had to scale back their trucked water supplies to thousands of dependent people. Piped water systems installed by Oxfam are said to be running at around 50 per cent capacity.
The lack of water is especially critical for the seven million Yemenis already suffering from malnourishment with the country experiencing the worst cholera outbreak in modern history. Since April 2017 there have been over two million suspected cases of cholera, claiming over 3,700 lives.
Oxfam's Yemen Country Director, Muhsin Siddiquey, highlighted the issue of warring parties using the economy as a weapon of war, by saying: "This weaponisation of the Yemeni economy is yet another cruelty inflicted on the people of Yemen who have been forced to endure four years of conflict." He also implored "all sides need to end the restrictions being imposed on importers so that fuel can once again reach the country unimpeded."
A new report by the UN Development Programme has revealed that the Saudi-led blockade has sparked fuel shortages, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the country. Saudi has recently stepped up its seizure and detention of ships carrying food and fuel into Yemen via the besieged port of Hudaydah.
Since the escalation of the conflict following the Saudi-led coalition air strikes in 2015, Oxfam has reported that at least eight of their water systems have been damaged or destroyed by fighting, cutting off water supplies to more than a quarter of a million people.