With Weapons Pouring In and Aid Locked Out, Yemeni Civilians 'Willfully Abandoned'

Two weeks of a Saudi Arabia-led bombardment and siege on the impoverished nation of Yemen has bred a profound humanitarian crisis—marked by hundreds of civilian deaths and worsening food and water shortages.

As the Saudi-led coalition blocks almost all food and medical aid from getting in, while bombing public infrastructure, residents and aid organizations warn that the worst is yet to come.

“So many of my family members are saying that if the war is not going to kill you, it’s the humanitarian crisis that will,” Rooj Alwazir, Yemeni activist currently based in Washington, D.C. and co-founder of Support Yemen Media, told the Shay wa Nana Radio Show, which aired Wednesday.

The war, which is led by Saudi Arabia and now includes the United States, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, and Morocco, is being waged against one of the poorest countries in the world.

The United Nations estimates that 16 million out of 25 million people in Yemen were in need of humanitarian assistance before the fighting began. Yemen relies on imports for 90 percent of staple food items, including 100 percent of rice.

“So many of my family members are saying that if the war is not going to kill you, it’s the humanitarian crisis that will.”
—Rooj Alwazir, Support Yemen Media

But the Saudi-led coalition has repeatedly blocked international aid from getting through as it lays siege to Yemen, a country the size of France, including a naval blockade. Commercial shipping lines are either scaling back or completely halting all services to the country, Reuters reports.

The aid group Oxfam warned on Wednesday, “Regular imports of food and fuel have not reached Yemen since the escalation in violence began two weeks ago, due to the closure of land, sea and air routes into the country.” As a result, the organization said, food prices have doubled, fuel prices have quadrupled in some areas, and basic goods are running “dangerously low.”

“It’s getting very difficult to find wheat these days and we are not expecting anymore deliveries,” said Abdulrahman, a shop keeper in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, according to the Oxfam statement.

Some areas, meanwhile, are close to completely running out of water. The United Nations warned on Friday that in the southern city of Aden, heavily targeted by shelling from war planes, “one million people risk being cut off from access to clean drinking water within a matter of days.”

Meanwhile, civilian infrastructure—including markets, schools, medical facilities, power plants, and warehouses—is being targeted in attacks, the UN finds. There are also numerous reports emerging that the coalition is targeting food supply buildings with its bombings.

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