Famine in Yemen (2016–present)
|Famine in Yemen|
المجاعة في اليمن
|Total deaths||More than 50,000 children (adults unknown)|
(estimate for only 2017)
|Death rate||At least 130 children (adults unknown) per day|
(December 2016–November 2017 estimate)
Death rate since November 2017 unknown but more cases of famine and severe malnourishment reported during 2018
|Consequences||2016–18 Yemen cholera outbreak|
Since 2016, a famine has been ongoing in Yemen which started during the Yemeni Civil War. Over 17 million of Yemen's population are at risk; over 3.3 million children and pregnant or lactating women suffer from acute malnutrition. Over 100,000 of the affected children are in Al Hudaydah Governorate, with the city of Al Hudaydah worst affected area of the province. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, the famine in Yemen will soon reach "biblical proportions". The famine is being compounded by an outbreak of cholera, which is resulting in 5,000 new cases daily. Devastation of Yemeni infrastructure, health, water and sanitation systems and facilities by Saudi-led coalition air strikes led to the spread of cholera. UNICEF says that Saudi-led coalition airstrikes are deliberately targeting water systems in Yemen.
After 5 November 2017, the famine in Yemen worsened because the Saudis, with the help of the United States, tightened their sea, air and land blockade. According to the manager of Al Hudaydah port, which is under the control of the Houthis, medicine and food cannot go to Al-Hudaydah, since Saudi-led airstrikes ruined the port's industrial cranes in August 2015. On 23 November, the blockade was allegedly partially but not fully lifted, and some humanitarian supplies were allowed into the country. However, the threat of the famine remains severe, and later independent sources denied the easing of blockade.
In October 2018, the United Nations warned that 13 million people face starvation in what could be "the worst famine in the world in 100 years." The famine has been compared by some commentators to the holodomor in Soviet Ukraine.
Saudi Arabian-led intervention
The famine is the direct result of the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen and blockade. Yemen was already the most impoverished nation in the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East, and Al Hudaydah one of the poorest cities of Yemen, but the war and the naval blockade by the Saudi-led coalition and the United States Navy made the situation much worse. Fishing boats, the main livelihood of Al Hudaydah's residents, were destroyed by Saudi airstrikes, leaving them without any means to provide for their families. As a result, one child dies every ten minutes on average. A UN panel of experts found that Saudi Arabia is purposefully obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid into Yemen.
Saudi Arabia was reported to be deliberately targeting means of food production and distribution in Yemen by bombing farms, fishing boats, ports, food storages, food factories, and other businesses in order to exacerbate famine. These actions led to the UN accusing the Saudi-led coalition of committing war crimes and having a "complete disregard for human life". 1,500 schools were damaged and destroyed during Yemeni Civil War. After Saudi-backed Hadi's forces retook Mocha from Houthis they barred fishermen from working. The Union of Yemeni fishermen accused the coalition of waging war against fishermen.
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy accused the United States of complicity in Yemen's humanitarian crisis, saying: "Thousands and thousands inside Yemen today are dying. ... This horror is caused in part by our decision to facilitate a bombing campaign that is murdering children and to endorse a Saudi strategy inside Yemen that is deliberately using disease and starvation and the withdrawal of humanitarian support as a tactic."
On 11 December 2017, Jamie McGoldrick, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, affirmed that 8 million in the country are in danger of famine unless access to immediate humanitarian is allowed.
Since 5 November 2017, the Saudi-led coalition began blocking all fuel shipments to Yemen, causing farmers to abandon modern equipment like tractors and forcing hospitals to function without generators.
According to The Economist, another major cause of the famine is the popularity of the cultivation and consumption of khat, which requires a significant amount of water to grow in addition to being the most popular drug in Yemen. Khat cultivation is monopolised by the Houthi rebels. More than 50,000 children in Yemen died from starvation during 2017.
In July 2018, a 25% increase of severe hunger cases in Yemen compared to 2017 has been reported.
In a September 2018 column in The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof stated that the United States is supporting crimes against humanity in Yemen, adding that "America is helping to kill, maim and starve Yemeni children. At least eight million Yemenis are at risk of starvation from an approaching famine caused not by crop failures but by our actions and those of our allies. The United Nations has called it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and we own it."
On 31 October 2018, the United States and the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia's biggest arm suppliers, called for a ceasefire in the conflict in Yemen. A press release from the United States Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, stated "A cessation of hostilities and vigorous resumption of a political track will help ease the humanitarian crisis as well. It is time to end this conflict, replace conflict with compromise, and allow the Yemeni people to heal through peace and reconstruction." On November 10, 2018, the U.S. announced it would no longer refuel coalition aircraft operating over Yemen. The U.S. continues its backing of the Saudi-led intervention with weapons sales and intelligence sharing.
In November 2018, according to the New York Times report, 1.8 million children in Yemen are extremely subject to malnutrition.
- Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen
- 2016–18 Yemen cholera outbreak
- Airstrikes on hospitals in Yemen
- Water supply and sanitation in Yemen
- Blockade of Yemen
- Destruction of Yemeni cultural heritage by Saudi-led coalition
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The port has been blockaded by the Saudi-led coalition for the past three years, a decision aid organisations say has been the main contributing factor to the famine that threatens to engulf half of Yemen’s 28 million population.
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