Yemenis in free fall one year since blockade

One year since the Saudi-led Coalition imposed a blockade on sea, land and air routes in Yemen, millions more are edging closer to famine and fatal disease

Khalid (6) walks next to a burnt up car outside of his home in Sana'a. After an airstrike hit his neighbouring house, Khalid is often afraid and runs and hides whenever he hears sounds of war. Photo: Becky Bakr Abdulla, NRC, 30 August 2018
Khalid (6) walks next to a burnt up car outside of his home in Sana'a. After an airstrike hit his neighbouring house, Khalid is often afraid and runs and hides whenever he hears sounds of war. Photo: Becky Bakr Abdulla, NRC, 30 August 2018

One year since the Saudi-led Coalition imposed a blockade on sea, land and air routes in Yemen, millions more are edging closer to famine and fatal disease.

“The past 12 months have been a never-ending nightmare for Yemeni civilians. The parties to the conflict have consistently disavowed the laws of war and employed tactics that exacerbate suffering for civilian populations,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

The one-year-long partial blockade has prevented import of vital food, fuel and medical supplies, creating shortages on key commodities for a population in dire need. This has also led to mass inflation and propelled a crisis already widely regarded as the worst in the world. 

Ahmed Qaid Mohammed al Asbat (39) and his son Ali (6) were displaced with the rest of their family from Taizz to Sana'a. Ahmed used to be a farmer and made a decent living from selling vegetables. As internally displaced people that have now been forced to move multiple times in search of safety, the family have nothing left of their belongings. “I want my children to go to school, be fed and have good health,” Ahmed said. Photo: Becky Bakr Abdulla/NRC, 30 August 2018
Ahmed Qaid Mohammed al Asbat (39) and his son Ali (6) were displaced with the rest of their family from Taizz to Sana'a. Ahmed used to be a farmer and made a decent living from selling vegetables. As internally displaced people that have now been forced to move multiple times in search of safety, the family have nothing left of their belongings. “I want my children to go to school, be fed and have good health,” Ahmed said. Photo: Becky Bakr Abdulla/NRC, 30 August 2018

Fuel imports through Hodeidah, Yemen’s most important sea port, remain drastically low and insufficient for meeting needs. The past days saw fierce fighting and air strikes pick up in the vicinity of Hodeidah city threatening to further deteriorate civilians’ access to safety and aid.

12 million people are left at imminent risk of descending into famine while over one million cholera suspected cases have been identified in Yemen. Over 22 million people need some form of aid or protection across the country.   

“We call on parties to this brutal conflict, the UN Security Council and individual member states to take immediate steps towards a ceasefire, the full opening of all of Yemen’s ports, the restoration of public services and stabilisation of the Yemeni economy in the interest of arresting an entirely man-made humanitarian catastrophe,” Egeland said.   

This informal settlement in Amran governorate is home to hundreds of displaced families. Conditions are dire with no water, hygiene or sanitation facilities. Displaced families live in cramped conditions and children have visible rashes and wounds on their bodies. The families living here are at greater risk of disease in what has become the world’s largest ever cholera outbreak.
This informal settlement in Amran governorate is home to hundreds of displaced families. Conditions are dire with no water, hygiene or sanitation facilities. Displaced families live in cramped conditions and children have visible rashes and wounds on their bodies. The families living here are at greater risk of disease in what has become the world’s largest ever cholera outbreak.

Background

On the 5-6 November last year, the Saudi-led Coalition imposed a full blockade on Yemen’s airports, seaports and land borders, purportedly as a measure to stop the importation of weapons into Yemen following interception by the Saudi military of a ballistic missile fired at Riyadh. 

Air and sea ports in areas under the control of the internationally-recognised government of Yemen (GoY) remained closed for eleven days, while critical sea ports along Yemen’s west coast were shut down for a period of more than seven weeks and only partially reopened thereafter. 

12 million people are now at imminent risk of descending into famine. More than 16 million people don’t have access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene and are extremely vulnerable to communicable disease outbreaks and factors that exacerbate the health causes of famine mortality.

​The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported 13,403 cholera cases as of October 2018. This is six times the number of reported cases as of mid-June (2,089), indicating the ongoing serious threat of a substantial new outbreak which has been exaccebated by displacement and economic deterioration.  

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