UN: 150,000 Yemeni children on the brink of starvation due to Saudi blockade
UN officials cautiously welcomed the Saudi decision to ease the blockade. “It is good news, but we are still waiting to see the specific details,” said Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian chief for Yemen.
In an interview just before the coalition’s announcement, McGoldrick told The Associated Press that if the blockade wasn’t lifted it would make Yemen’s long-suffering population more vulnerable to cholera and famine. Millions in Yemen are at immediate risk if food aid and the supply of fuel for pumping clean water are interrupted, he said.
On 8 November, United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock warned that Yemen could be facing “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims”.
Save the Children said an estimated 130 children or more already die every day in war-torn Yemen from extreme hunger and disease, and if the blockade continued it was likely to further increase the death rate. It says over 50,000 children are believed to have died in 2017.
The International Rescue Committee called the blockade a “collective punishment” of Yemenis that risked driving 500 children into malnutrition every week.
The US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) said famine was likely in many areas within three or four months if ports remain closed. “Thousands of deaths would occur each day due to the lack of food and disease outbreaks.”