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Yemenis 'months away from starving to death', says Oxfam

More than 7,000 people have been killed since a Saudi-led military intervention [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 December, 2016

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Aid group Oxfam has warned that Yemenis are on the brink of mass starvation with food stocks set to run out by April under punishing import restrictions.
Aid group Oxfam has warned that Yemenis are at risk of "catastrophic hunger" with food stocks set to run out by April under punishing import restrictions.

Oxfam said on Tuesday that food imports to Yemen plunged in August to half the amount needed to feed the war-torn country's population and that the level has remained below that ever since.

"Yemen is being slowly starved to death," said Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB chief executive.

"First there were restrictions on imports - including much needed food - when this was partially eased, the cranes in the ports were bombed, then the warehouses, then the roads, and the bridges. This is not by accident - it is systematic," 

He said that Yemen's economy, institutions, and the ability of parties involved in the war to feed people are "all on the brink of collapse".

"There is still time to pull it back before we see chronic hunger becoming widespread starvation. The fighting needs to stop and the ports should be fully opened to vital supplies of food, fuel and medicine," Goldring added.

"As one of the principal backers of this brutal war Britain needs to end its arms sales and military support to the Saudis and help put Yemen on the road to peace."

Yemen is being slowly starved to death.
- Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB chief executive


More than 7,000 people have been killed and nearly 37,000 wounded since Yemen's conflict escalated after a Saudi-led military coalition intervened in March 2015 to support President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Oxfam called on the Saudi-led coalition to lift shipping restrictions to allow food and other vital imports to reach desperate civilians.

The group also called on all parties in the conflict to allow food to move freely around the country and agree to a meaningful ceasefire and restart peace talks.

Oxfam also called for wealthy countries to increase support to the UN aid effort which is currently only 58 percent funded and short of over $686 million.

Before the conflict started, nearly 90 percent of Yemen's food had to be imported. With the country's agriculture hit by the fighting, that reliance on food imports has only increased.

Oxfam said that the harsh restrictions on shipping and destruction of many port facilities by the Saudi-led coalition means that meeting the country's food needs has reached a "critical juncture".

In August, Oxfam said the UK was "flagrantly" ignoring its own principles and international treaties in its arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

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