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Oxfam is warning of catastrophic repercussions for people in Yemen if the Saudi and Emirati led coalition, and aligned forces, continue to push for control of the main route linking the port city of Hudaydah to Sana’a.
Despite sustained calls from Oxfam and other aid agencies for the warring parties in Yemen to end the conflict, credible eyewitness reports suggest a clear escalation in violence in civilian areas close to densely-populated Hudaydah in the last 24 hours. Coalition forces are now just three kilometres from the main road linking the port city with the capital.
Not only is this risking the lives of people in Hudaydah, but also the pipeline of food supplies that support millions of people in Sana’a and other northern parts of Yemen. If coalition forces gain control of this route, it would mean a de-facto blockade that would bar Yemeni families from life-saving essentials like food and medicine.
People fled for their lives from the latest fighting in Hudaydah. In recent months, the UN estimates fighting has forced almost half a million people to flee within the city and to other governorates, including Dhamar, Sana’a, and Ibb.
Most of the 600,000 people who live in Hudaydah, Yemen’s third biggest city, do not have electricity or water. The price of basic food supplies has risen by 45 per cent in recent weeks.
Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director, Muhsin Siddiquey said, “More than eight million Yemenis are on the verge of famine. Any disruption to the food supply chain could plunge the north and centre of the country into famine and put people at even greater risk of disease and death.
“Oxfam is calling on the parties to the conflict to immediately cease fire and engage in an inclusive peace process to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.”
Commercial imports of food, fuel and medicines, as well as humanitarian aid, rely on the full functioning of Hudaydah and Saleef ports. All parties need to ensure safe and unhindered access for aid agencies to reach people in need.
Siddiquey said: “The crisis in Yemen is unacceptable and unjustifiable. The more than three-year conflict has spawned famine like conditions, disease epidemics, and has displaced more than ten percent of the population.
“Those with the ability to influence the warring parties should exert maximum pressure to stop the conflict in Yemen. Attacking Hudaydah or blocking humanitarian supply routes will mean millions of Yemenis going without life-saving food and medicine.”