Humanitarian organizations monitoring the civil war in Yemen are warning the country could be engulfed in one of the largest human-created famines in history if fighting continues between a Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels (who are supported by Iran). The situation is dire because the conflict now centers on the port city of Hodeidah, an essential entry point for food shipments. Twelve million people could be at risk. With American support giving them command of the air, the Saudi-aligned coalition forces have wreaked havoc on Yemen’s infrastructure and shown little regard for civilian life.
“Civilians in Yemen are not starving, they are being starved. Let it be known that the worst famine on our watch is wholly man-made by Yemen’s local conflict parties and their international sponsors,” said Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, in a statement.
“Yemen has long been bombarded with air strikes and subjected to strangling tactics of war. Mass starvation is a deadly byproduct of actions taken by warring parties and the Western nations propping them up. The way the war is waged has systematically choked civilians by making less food available and affordable to millions of people.”
Lise Grande, the United Nation’s humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, echoed these concerns. “I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that it was unthinkable that we could see a famine like we saw in Ethiopia, that we saw in Bengal, that we saw in parts of the Soviet Union—that was just unacceptable,” she told the BBC. “Many of us had the confidence that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at.”