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Updated On: Monday, 20 August 2018
Development Issues

OCHA Warns of Attack on Yemen

Content by: South-South News

11 June 2018, New York, USA | South-South News — The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned on June 8 that an attack on the port city of Hodeidah in Yemen would “impact hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians” and may lead to a quarter of a million losing everything - “even their lives.”

Around 8.4 million Yemenis are severely food insecure and at risk of starvation, according to the OCHA.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, a spokesperson for OCHA Jens Laerke said, “Humanitarian agencies in Yemen are deeply worried by the likely impact of a possible military assault on the port city of Hodeidah. The UN and its partners estimate that as many as 600,000 civilians are currently living in and around Hodeidah.”

OCHA has warned repeatedly of the risks to ordinary Yemenis since a military campaign involving a Saudi-backed international coalition and Houthi opposition forces which escalated in March 2015.

Since then, according to the UN human rights office, OHCHR, 6,439 civilians have been killed and more than 10,000 have been injured.

The country’s already weak infrastructure has also suffered tremendous damage, including to massive portside cranes in Hodeidah, “the single most important point of entry for the food and basic supplies”, Laerke said.

Close to 70 per cent of Yemen’s imports, including commercial and humanitarian goods, enter through Hodeidah and Saleef to the north.

“A military attack or siege on Hodeidah will impact hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians,” Laerke said, adding that “humanitarian organizations have rushed to develop a contingency plan. In a prolonged worst case, we fear that as many as 250,000 people may lose everything— even their lives.”

By the end of January 2018, the number of suspected cases had risen to more than one million, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In addition to concerns for civilians around Hodeidah, needs in Yemen remain massive.

Laerke said, “Across the country, people are desperate for food, medical help and protection. This is why humanitarian organizations have dramatically ramped up the amount of assistance we are providing. Yemen is already the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”

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