Friday, March 24, 2017

7mn people face starvation as Yemen heads towards man-made famine – Oxfam

RT | Mar 24, 2017

The situation in war-ravaged Yemen is starting to resemble a man-made famine, with almost seven million people “knowingly” pushed towards starvation, the latest report from the international humanitarian organization Oxfam says.

The ongoing “complex and bloody [civil] war” between the Houthi rebels and forces loyal to ousted President Mansur Hadi has led to the deaths of thousands, as the conflict peaked in 2015, the paper says. Attempts by the Saudi-led coalition to drive back the Houthis have only added to the plight of the people.

Over the past year, “airstrikes and fighting” have led to the deaths of around 7,600 people, with an average of 70 deaths a day, Oxfam said, calling on the world to not ignore the misery in the region.

“The world is now confronting… the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations, with more than 20 million people facing starvation and famine in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.”

Yemen, already the “poorest country in the region” prior to the conflict, has been sliding deeper into chaos and poverty over the past two years. The Saudi-led coalition forces “knowingly” worsen it, according to the report.

“Ports, roads and bridges, along with warehouses, farms and markets have been regularly destroyed by the Saudi-led coalition, draining the country’s food stocks,” the paper says. It also casts some blame for the misery on the Houthi rebels, who it claims are “delaying the delivery of life-saving relief, and sometimes detaining aid workers.”

“This, coupled with a flattened economy, has created an abyss of hunger and a serious threat of famine.”

Currently, an estimated 17 million people, or 60 percent of the population, do not have reliable access to sufficient quantities of nutritious food, the report emphasized. The document went on to provide heartbreaking examples.

“Oxfam surveyed 2000 families of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Hajjah Governorate, between November and December 2016, and found 85 percent of respondents were going hungry. These families, who were forced to flee their homes because of the conflict, have lost everything they had.”

The organization met with 51-year-old Rabii, who was forced to escape the fighting with his wife and 11 children, feeling to Hajjah Governorate.

“I’ve been living in a hut for two years, which doesn’t protect us from the cold winter and the summer rain. We had no choice though, because my village was under the bombs, we left to save the children. At the beginning, I had some money by selling the few sheep I had left. But for the past six months, I have no money at all. Sometimes the farmers I work with give me some flour but it’s not enough for my big family.”

This is not the first time that Oxfam has warned the world community about the threat. One year ago, the organization said that Yemen was being pushed towards famine. Also, in October, World Food Programme’s director in Yemen, Torben Due, said that “an entire generation could be crippled by hunger.”

The latest report noted that due to hunger, lack of water and sanitation, with the people’s immune systems weakening, cholera broke out in October 2016.

“Six months later, there are over 22,000 suspected cases across 15 governorates and at least 100 people have died so far.” UNICEF also said that “63,000 children died in 2016 from preventable causes linked to malnutrition,” as cited in the report.

This February, the UN launched the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan, with a humanitarian appeal of $2.1 billion for Yemen, a 30-percent increase compared to 2016. The plan, however, is now only seven-percent funded.

Russia extensively contributes to the relief effort in the war-torn country, repeatedly sending hundreds of parcels with essential foods like flour, rice, butter, and sugar, distributed in the Yemeni capital, Sana.

“We’re grateful for this help to the Russian people that helps us to overcome this crisis. For this humanitarian aid. Only Russia helps us,” a local woman told RT Arabic.

“I wish other organizations collaborated with our people,” a local man lamented, while others also thanked the Russian people for the help.

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