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Conflict near Hudaydah port threatens to cut lifeline to millions in Yemen

By Oxfam
Many people have been forced to flee from their homes and live in IDP camps. Photo: Oxfam/Nigel Timmins

Escalation of fighting around Yemen’s port city Hudaydah could cut off essential supplies to millions of people who are already one step away from famine.

The fighting has already forced hundreds of families to flee their homes.

"Yemen is already the world's worst humanitarian crisis and is steadily slipping towards famine,” said Oxfam's Country Director in Yemen, Muhsin Siddiquey. “If this vital route for supplying food, fuel, and medicine is blocked, the result will be more hunger, more people without health care and more families burying their loved ones. There has been far too much destruction, disease, and death. The international community needs to put pressure on warring parties to end the fighting and return to peace negotiations,” said Siddiquey.

Hudaydah is one of the country's principal ports serving the essential needs of millions of people. Approximately 90 percent of Yemen's food has to be imported and 70 percent comes through this port. About 90 percent of the country's fuel also has to be imported, half of which comes through Hudaydah and the port of Al-Salif. Hudaydah is also crucial for imports of medicine and other essentials.

Three years since the escalation of the conflict in March 2015, 8.4 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from and are one step away from famine. More than 22 million people, close to 75 percent of the population, are in need of humanitarian assistance. Last year’s cholera outbreak was the world’s worst since records began, with more than 1.1 million suspected cases and over 2,200 deaths.

The conflict has created an economic crisis, including hikes in the cost of basic food items and non-payment of public sector salaries, which is pushing millions of people to the edge. 

While this crisis escalates, the United States is sending mixed signals. The US Government is poised to once again sell arms to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates for their use in Yemen, while recently adopting language that holds Saudi Arabia to higher standards before we continue to refuel aircrafts. The US must use its influence to push for peace and stop fueling this conflict. 

Since July 2015, Oxfam has reached more than 2.8 million people throughout Yemen with water and sanitation services, cash assistance and food vouchers. 

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