Cancellation of a meeting of five countries with the power to unlock a path to peace in Yemen must not be used as an excuse to delay lifting the blockade or agreeing the ceasefire that the war-torn country so badly needs, Oxfam said today.
The Quint – conflict parties Saudi Arabia and the UAE, their backers the US and UK, and Oman, playing a mediation role – postponed their meeting today in London while the scale of death is poised to rise markedly following Saudi Arabia’s blockade on Houthi-controlled Yemeni ports.
Shane Stevenson, Oxfam’s Country Director in Yemen, said: “If those with the power to act fail to do so, history will judge these five countries as either responsible or complicit in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of people in Yemen. They need to immediately open borders, and allow the free flow of vital aid and help secure a ceasefire.”
Since 6 November, most ports and airports of Yemen have been closed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition which has led to an immediate worsening of the humanitarian situation. Fuel prices have spiked by over 60 percent in Sanaa and food, supplies and aid workers have been unable to enter the country. 72,000 MT of food supplies are currently waiting to be off-loaded, while 250 MT of medical supplies were denied entry. Saudi Arabia announced that they would reopen ports and airports under government influence, but that excludes Al-Hudaydah port and Sanaa airport, both crucial for humanitarian assistance.
Last week, the UN warned that Yemen would face the largest famine seen for many decades if the blockade was not lifted. Yemen’s food stock will only suffice for the next two months, while medical supplies are running critically low. More than two years and a half of war have left 21 million people to be in need of humanitarian assistance, including 7 million already on the brink of famine. With more than 900,000 suspected cases of cholera, Yemen’s current outbreak is already the largest and fastest-spreading in recorded history.
Stevenson added: “The dearth of fuel already means that the hum of the generators will cease. These are the generators that pump clean water to households, light up schools and keep disease from the hospitals. This fuel is urgently needed to transport what little food remains in Yemen, or food will be stuck in warehouses while innocent people starve nearby. Every day that passes brings the Yemeni people closer to the brink of a historic catastrophe. Oxfam and other humanitarian agencies are committed to support the Yemeni people and will do all we can until our own resources are bled dry by this blockade.”