Yemen’s fuel stocks, vaccine will run out in a month, UNICEF warns
The United Nations children’s agency has warned that Yemen’s stocks of fuel and vaccines will run out within a month unless the invading military coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, lifts its blockade on the western port of Hudaydah and the international airport in the capital Sana’a.
UNICEF Resident Representative in Yemen Meritxell Relano, speaking by phone to reporters in Geneva, sounded the alarm on Friday, adding that stocks of fuel would last until the end of November and stocks of vaccines would run out in just one month.
She further warned that fuel prices had gone up 60 percent and there were deep concerns about a diphtheria outbreak and food shortages because of the closure of the port of Hudaydah, which was used to import nearly 80 percent of Yemen’s food before the shutdown.
“The situation that was already catastrophic is just getting worse. The impact of this is unimaginable in terms of health and diseases,” Relano further added.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia announced the closure of all land, air and sea ports in Yemen. Riyadh’s move came after Yemeni forces, backed by popular Houthi Ansarullah fighters, launched a Borkan H2 long-range missile at King Khalid International Airport in northeastern Riyadh late on Saturday.
Since March 2015, the Saudi regime has been heavily bombarding Yemen as part of a brutal campaign against its impoverished southern neighbor in an attempt to reinstall Yemen’s former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, and crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, which is in control of large parts of Yemen, including the capital. The Saudi campaign, however, has failed to achieve its goals.
Over the past two years, the Houthis have been running state affairs and defending Yemeni people against the Saudi aggression.
Latest figures show that the war has so far killed over 12,000 Yemenis and wounded thousands more. The military campaign has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.
Saudi Arabia has also imposed a total embargo on Yemen, causing severe food and medicine shortages and a recent cholera epidemic that has so far claimed the lives of nearly 2,200 people. After nearly three years of the imposed war, the impoverished nation has seven million people on the verge of famine and has had 900,000 suspected cholera cases in the past six months.
However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of new cholera cases has fallen consistently during the past eight weeks. Nevertheless, it warned that progress against the viral disease could be reversed by the blockade.
“If the closure is not stopped in the coming days, we may see that the progress is stopped,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said a regular UN briefing in Geneva, adding, “We can see even more cases and more deaths as a result of not being able to get access to people.”
On Wednesday, a ship setting sail from Djibouti, with 250 tons of WHO medical supplies, was barred from anchoring in Hudaydah due to the persisting blockade.
“If the hostilities continue and the ports remain closed, we will not be able to perform life-saving surgeries or provide basic healthcare,” Chaib added.
Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said on Friday that despite reports of the re-opening of the port of Aden and a land border crossing in an eastern pro-Saudi territory, Saudi Arabia was still blocking desperately-needed UN aid deliveries to the war-torn country.
“Humanitarian movements into Yemen remain blocked,” said UNOCHA spokesman Russell Geekie.
“The reopening of the port in Aden is not enough. We need to see the blockade of all the ports lifted, especially Hudaydah, for both humanitarians and for commercial imports,” he added.