Yemen’s cities running out of fuel and clean water in ‘imminent catastrophe,’ UN says
WATCH 150,000 malnourished children in Yemen could die if left untreated, according to the UN A Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemeni rebels eased an air, land, and sea blockade of Yemen a week ago, but it is still keeping commercial ships with food and fuel from docking and unloading their cargo in the country, putting millions at risk of starving, the United Nations said this weekend.
Millions of Yemenis depend on those supplies, and without fuel, health and water facilities can’t run.
So Yemen’s cities are running out of clean water, the chiefs of several United Nations agencies and other top humanitarian officials said in a statement Saturday.
“Urban water networks in seven cities have run out of fuel and now depend on humanitarian organizations to fill in the gap,” the officials said.
“This imminent catastrophe is entirely avoidable,” the officials said.
But continued restrictions on commercial food and fuel imports have devastated markets and driven up prices for millions of Yemenis who do not receive humanitarian aid, putting them at risk, aid groups said.
Yemen imports nearly all of its food.
The average price of diesel in Yemen has risen 99 percent since September, and the average price of petrol had gone up 71 percent in that period, she said last week.
“The people cannot exist alone on food aid.” In some areas, the price of trucked-in water has jumped 600 percent, the price of wheat flour had gone up 30 percent, and the price of wheat flour had risen 30 percent, the UN and aid officials said in their statement Saturday, without giving a timeframe.
“It’s critical that shipments of commercial food continue,” the Yemen country director for the U.N.’s World Food Programme, Stephen Anderson, told ABC News last week, “and it’s also essential that humanitarian supplies are able to flow without delays.” All the partial lifting of the blockade on Yemen’s ports on its Red Sea coast has done, the officials said Saturday, was to “slow the collapse towards a massive humanitarian tragedy costing millions of lives.” The statement was issued by the heads of the WFP, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the International Organization for Migration, as well as the United Nations’ high commissioner for refugees and under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.