Friday, 15 December, 2017

Trump urges Saudi Arabia to lift Yemen blockade

A boy stands behind armed Houthi followers attending a rally to celebrate the killing of Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa A boy stands behind armed Houthi followers attending a rally to celebrate the killing of Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa
Howard Terry | 08 December, 2017, 01:08

The war and blockade has plunged Yemen into a major humanitarian disaster, leaving 20 million people in need of aid.

Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on Yemen's ports after a Huthi missile was sacked toward Riyadh airport on November 4.

At least 234 people were killed in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, in the past four days in clashes between Shia Houthi rebels and forces loyal to slain former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was killed Monday, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) official said Tuesday.

Mr Beasley told CBS: " "I don't think there's any question the Saudi-led coalition, along with the Houthis and all of those involved, are using food as a weapon".

"We know the Saudi-led coalition has sent some messages to the people in Sanaa to stay away from Houthi installations for fear of air strikes, so we are trying to wait and see when things become slightly more clear and we can move around more freely", he said.

The United Nations said a food shortage caused by warring parties blocking supplies has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Yemen was already the poorest country in the Middle East. Almost 1 million people have contracted cholera, and 3 million, out of a population of 28 million, are internally displaced, according to the UN. Drinking water is hard to come by. Roughly 8 million Yemenis are starving, and many are suffering from outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria.

This week's fighting resulted in the disruption of emergency services in Sanaa. "Any interruption because of fighting means hospitals essentially stop functioning".

Saleh was ousted in 2012 during the Arab Spring, and his death recalled images of a similar fate met by Moammar Gaddafi in Libya during the uprising there.

About 7 million Yemenis - many of them children - are on the brink of starvation as the Saudi coalition has cut off access to the country. This year, some commanders loyal to Saleh began taking orders from the Houthis, which may have pushed Saleh toward his dramatic and fateful decision to switch sides in the conflict.

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