Could Yemen face the largest famine in decades?

 09 Nov 2017 - 23:51

Could Yemen face the largest famine in decades?
Yemenis wait next to empty gas cylinders for gas supplies amid increasing shortages in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, on November 9, 2017. The war gripping Yemen has killed around 8,650 people since a Saudi-led military intervention in 2015, and brought the impoverished country to the brink of famine. The conflict is underscored by the regional rivalry between Iran, a supporter of Yemen's Shiite Huthi rebels, and Saudi Arabia, which heads a nine-member coalition backing the president. AFP / Mohammed Huwais

By Heba Kanso / Thomson Reuters Foundation

LONDON:  Amid warnings by the United Nations that Yemen could face “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades with millions of victims”, aid agencies have called for food, fuel and medicines to be allowed into the country immediately.

The Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Houthi movement in Yemen said on Monday it had closed all air, land and sea ports to the Arabian Peninsula country to stem the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran.


Here are some facts:

· The World Food Programme estimates the number of Yemenis needing aid has risen to 20 million this year, or more than two-thirds of the population, compared with 17 million in 2016.

· 7 million people in Yemen are facing famine-like conditions and rely completely on food aid to survive. In six weeks, the food supplies to feed them will be exhausted.

· More than 2 million children are malnourished, and almost 400,000 of those suffer from severe malnutrition and require therapeutic treatment to stay alive.

· More than 11 million children need humanitarian aid.

· Dozens of ships carrying food and supplies to Yemen have been stopped since 2015 by warships belonging to Saudi Arabia and its allies seeking to stop arms reaching Houthi fighters seeking to overthrow the government.

· Attacks on hospitals and health facilities have increased by a third in the last year.

· An unprecedented cholera epidemic has infected about 900,000 people in Yemen and killed more than 2,100 since April.

· Suspected cholera cases are likely to reach one million by the end of 2017.

Sources: Reuters, World Health Organization (WHO), U.N. Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), U.N.  children’s fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP).

(Reporting by Heba Kanso @hebakanso, Editing by Katy Migiro)