The United Nations and more than 20 aid groups said today that the Saudi-led coalition’s tightening of a blockade on war-torn Yemen could bring millions of people closer to “starvation and death.” About two-thirds of Yemen’s population relies on imported supplies, said the groups, which include CARE, Save the Children and Islamic Relief. Over 20 million people need humanitarian assistance, including 7 million facing “famine-like” conditions, they said. Food supplies are expected to run out within six weeks while vaccines will last only a month.
They urged an “immediate opening” of all air and seaports.
The blockade has already led to a fuel crisis in the rebel-held capital, Sanaa, where hundreds of cars lined the roads yesterday after the Houthis ordered the closure of fuel stations.
The rebels said they closed the stations after merchants refused to fix prices. The price of fuel has risen by 50 per cent since the coalition tightened the blockade. The coalition closed all ports and halted humanitarian shipments after Yemen’s Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile over the weekend that was intercepted near Riyadh. Saudi Arabia blamed the strike on Iran, which supports the Houthis but has denied arming them.
The US has also accused Iran of supplying advanced weapons, including ballistic missiles, to the Houthis. Today, the Houthis rejected the US allegations, saying they built the missile themselves and fired it in response to coalition bombings that have killed civilians and the ongoing blockade.
“Washington aids the forces of aggression, politically and militarily, and has pushed them into dangerous pitfalls,” Houthi spokesman Muhammad Abdul Salam said on the group’s Al-Masirah TV channel.