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WHO Warns of the Dangers of Yemen Blockade

Content by: South-South News

14 November 2017, New York, USA | South-South News — The ongoing blockade of Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition has worsened an already dire situation in the country, where the fuel supplies are due to run out at the end of November, UN officials said.

Speaking on November 10 to reporters in Geneva, the World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Fadela Chaib said, “For the fifth consecutive day, WHO operations in Yemen have been severely hampered due to the closure of all land, and sea and air ports. WHO and other humanitarian agencies need immediate humanitarian access to Yemen. The country is still facing the world’s largest cholera outbreak and seven million people are on the brink of famine including some two million severely malnourished children.”

Chaib reiterated that staff on the ground have reported that “WHO supplies are critically low. On Wednesday, WHO was prevented from delivering 250 tonnes of medical supplies via sea. The supply ship could not leave Djibouti as previously planned because of the closure of Yemen Al Hodeidah port. The ship was carrying surgical kits, anesthesia machines, infant incubators, water purification tablets and other essential supplies.”

The UN representatives called for this pipeline of supplies to remain open as the lack of fuel would have an adverse impact on the humanitarian situation in the country.

Alessandra Vellucci, the Director of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, said, “Obviously this blockade is making things much more difficult and this may mean all the things we have been telling you: shortage of fuel, shortage of food, less medicine, possibly the health situation becomes worse, so this is happening and we are calling for the end of this.”

According to UNICEF, access to fuel, medicine, and food is essential in what has been called the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Maritxell Relano, the UNICEF Representative in Yemen, noted that nearly seven million people do not know where their next meal will come from and the survival of millions of people depends on humanitarian assistance operations. The closure of ports and discontinued access for vital humanitarian assistance is worsening an already catastrophic situation with far-reaching consequences on the missions on the ground. Current health systems and cold-chain supplies of vaccines are also at risk, leaving one million children susceptible to diseases like polio and measles.

The UN Under- Secretary-General Mark Lowcock has also previously condemned the situation in Yemen, warned that if the blockades continue, Yemen will be gripped by "the largest famine the world has seen for many decades."


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