Humanitarian groups on Wednesday demanded access to civilians on the brink of famine in Yemen, describing the two-year civil war in the Arab world’s poorest state as an “open-air massacre”. Tags: Yemen, Famine, Civilians, Blockade, Saudi Arabia, Coalition, Houthis
Humanitarian groups on Wednesday demanded access to civilians on the brink of famine in Yemen, describing the two-year civil war in the Arab world’s poorest state as an “open-air massacre”.
“The bombs that rain down every day in Yemen show an absolute disdain for civilian life,” Jean-Pierre Delomier of Handicap International said in a joint statement with five other aid groups.
“Every day our teams, when they manage to reach people, see the physical and psychological distress of the traumatised civilians,” he added. “This open-air massacre is intolerable and unworthy or our era.”
Some 19 million people, or 60 percent of the population, face food insecurity including three million women and children who are suffering severe malnutrition, the six groups said.
Helene Queau of Premiere Urgence Internationale told a Paris news conference that Yemen was “one of the countries… where humanitarian groups have the most difficulties.”
Transport infrastructure is “partially or totally destroyed, access to airports and ports is very complicated, and bombing by the Arab coalition restricts movements,” said Queau, the group’s operations chief.
The presence of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula poses an additional security risk, she said.
The Saudi-led coalition’s war against Houthi rebels in Yemen has cost more than 10,000 lives since March 2015 and brought the country to the brink of famine.
Sunday will mark two years since the coalition launched its bombing campaign in Yemen.
The Saudi-led coalition has been accused of imposing a blockade to prevent supplies from reaching civilians in Yemen, which was already heavily dependent on imports before the war.
“We call on the international community and the belligerents to step up efforts to improve access,” Queau said.
The country’s health infrastructure is on the brink of collapse, with medicines running out and staff going unpaid for several months, the groups said.
Some 20,000 people are thought to have contracted cholera since October, with nearly 100 deaths reported, said the groups, which also included Medecins du Monde, Care and Solidarites International.
They accused the coalition of bombing civilian targets indiscriminately and of using cluster bombs, which were banned under an international treaty in 2008.