Fri, Nov 10, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Yemen faces ‘largest famine’: UN

BLOCKADE:A UN official called for a resumption of flights to Yemen for the UN and its humanitarian partners, and also said there must be immediate access to all seaports

AP, SANA’A

Hundreds of cars lined the main roads of Yemen’s capital after the rebels who control the city on Wednesday ordered fuel stations to close, accusing merchants of taking advantage of a Saudi Arabian blockade to raise prices.

A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition tightened its blockade on Yemen this week after a ballistic missile fired by Houthi rebels was intercepted near the Saudi capital.

Aid groups said the measures would exacerbate an already severe humanitarian crisis in the impoverished, war-torn nation.

Fuel prices have spiked by 50 percent since Monday.

Hassan al-Zaydi, a spokesman for the Houthi-run Yemeni Ministry of Oil and Minerals, said merchants had refused orders to keep prices fixed, prompting authorities to shut the fuel stations down.

A UN official said aid agencies were given no prior notice of the Saudi Arabian decision to shut down all land, air and seaports in the nation, and had learned about it from media.

“It will aggregate the already dire humanitarian situation,” UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen head George Khoury said. “We want to be crystal clear to the international community. Any disruption will have catastrophic consequence on the lives of hundreds of thousands people and children.”

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Mark Lowcock said that if the blockade continued, Yemen would face “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims.”

After briefing the UN Security Council behind closed doors, Lowcock called for a resumption of air flights to Yemen for the UN and its humanitarian partners, and he said there must be immediate access to all ports, especially for food, fuel, medicine and other essential supplies.

Every month, at least 7 million people depend on life-saving UN aid.

Ten UN ships in the Red Sea ports of Hodeida and nearby Salef had been ordered to depart, Khoury said.

A Saudi Arabian-led coalition has been at war with the Houthi, a Shiite group supported by Iran, since March 2015.

Saudi Arabia blamed Saturday’s missile strike on Iran, which supports the rebels, but denies arming them.

The US, which supports the coalition, echoed those allegations on Wednesday, saying Iran had supplied the rebels with advanced weapons, including ballistic missiles.

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