For the 20 million people in Yemen in need of urgent humanitarian aid, a recent blockade of the country’s air, land and sea ports – spurred by ongoing conflict in the region – has made a dire situation even worse.
For weeks, the people of Yemen have been almost completely cut off from the food, medicine and fuel imports so many need to survive. Already suffering from the devastating effects of war, widespread poverty, sickness and hunger, millions of people in Yemen are at risk of dying from famine if the blockade continues.
“The clock is ticking and stocks of medical, food and other humanitarian supplies are already running low,” the directors of the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the World Food Program said in a joint statement.
“The cost of this blockade is being measured in the number of lives that are lost.”
Recently, the United Nations has been able to resume flights into Yemen carrying humanitarian aid workers and urgent medicines to combat a looming outbreak of diptheria. Still, major ports – through which 90 percent of the country's food, fuel and medical supplies would normally flow – remain blocked.
If aid agencies cannot import lifesaving nutrition supplements soon, 150,000 children in Yemen who are already severely malnourished are likely to perish. Nearly half a million pregnant women and their unborn infants are also at risk without access to basic maternal medicines.
Dramatic spikes in the price of food and other essential supplies, increased airstrikes in the capital city of Sana’a and depleted reserves of fuel further threaten Yemen’s people. Without fuel to power the country’s water pumps, a resurgence of the cholera epidemic that swept across the population earlier this year – the worst outbreak of this waterborne disease in modern history – is likely.
Until the blockade is lifted, Yemen’s people will go on suffering from preventable hunger and disease.
Some of Relief International’s aid workers who were trapped outside Yemen have now been able to enter the country. They've rejoined the rest of our team in Yemen to continue RI's lifesaving work among vulnerable communities.