Escalation of fighting around Yemen’s port city of Hudaydah threatens to cut off essential supplies to millions of people who are already one step away from famine, international agency Oxfam warned today.
Oxfam’s Country Director in Yemen, Muhsin Siddiquey said the fighting had already forced hundreds of families to flee their homes.
“Yemen is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and is steadily slipping towards famine,” Mr Siddiquey said. “If this vital route for supplying food, fuel and medicine is blocked, the result will be more hunger, more people without health care and more families burying their loved ones.
“There has been far too much destruction, disease and death. The international community needs to put pressure on warring parties to end the fighting and return to peace negotiations.”
Hudaydah is one of the country’s principal ports serving the essential needs of millions of people. About 90 per cent of Yemen’s food has to be imported and 70 per cent comes through the port. About 90 per cent of the country’s fuel also has to be imported, half of which comes through Hudaydah and the port of Al-Salif.
Hudaydah is also crucial for the imports of medicine and other essentials.
Three years since the escalation of the conflict in March 2015, 8.4 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from and are one step away from famine. More than 22 million people, close to 75 per cent of the population, are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Compounding the misery, last year’s cholera outbreak was the world’s worst since records began, with over 1.1 million suspected cases and over 2,200 deaths.
The conflict has fuelled an economic crisis, including hikes in the cost of basic food items and non-payment of public sector salaries, which is pushing millions of people to the edge.
Oxfam Australia’s Head of Public Policy and Advocacy, Rachel Ball, said the situation in Yemen was critical and continued support was needed from donor governments to support the millions of people in need of water and food.
“After more than three years of conflict, Yemen is teetering on the brink of famine,” Ms Ball said, “Families are facing a daily struggle just to get hold of the bare essentials like food and water.
“The Australian Government has so far provided AUD $3 million of humanitarian funding in 2018. This was a welcome start to the year and takes its total contribution to AUD $23 million since April 2017.
“Oxfam is calling on the Australian Government to continue to closely monitor the crisis, be prepared to commit additional funding and continue to use diplomatic channels to push for peace.”
Oxfam is working across Yemen, including with people fleeing the fighting in Hudaydah, trucking water and providing cash for people to buy food. The organisation has helped more than 2.8 million people since July 2015. But the regular closure of sea and air ports has hampered efforts to get food, water, fuel and medicines to all those who need them.
For interviews with Oxfam’s Country Director in Yemen or more information, please contact Dylan Quinnell on 0450 668 350 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Donations support Oxfam’s response in Yemen and other emergencies can be made at www.oxfam.org.au/yemen
Please note that there are several spellings of the port – including Hodeida or Hudaida.