Sana’a (GPA) – The increased Saudi blockade of Yemen has put millions of people throughout at least five major cities in dire straits without access to clean water, food, and medical supplies.
Riyadh launched their initial blockade of Yemen shortly after resistance forces took control of the capital city in 2014. This blockade restricted imports such as food, medical supplies, and fuel.
Water pumps require fuel to run, so this limits access to clean water for millions of Yemenis. As a result, Yemen is still facing a cholera outbreak completely unprecedented in modern times. Numbers have tapered off, but 1 million will likely become infected by the end of the year. Over 3,000 have died from this preventable — and treatable — illness since April of this year.
The blockade also put millions at risk of famine because Yemen imports nearly 80% of food. Seven million face famine while another 17 million are currently food insecure. The famine risk is greater in the country’s rural areas, but those living within the capital city are not immune as food prices have skyrocketed.
Heightening the blockade
In early November, Yemeni forces launched a ballistic missile at the King Khalid Airport near Riyadh in retaliation for the ongoing siege, airstrike campaign, and aggression against Yemen.
Saudi Arabia capitalized on this opportunity to increase their deadly blockade of Yemen by closing every available route for imports and exports.
Prior to the increased blockade, small amounts of aid were allowed to enter Yemen’s resistance-held territory under Riyadh’s discretion. These heightened measures closed the few routes available.
Water pumps shut down and food is scarce.
Shortly after heightening the blockade, Saudi Arabian warplanes bombed infrastructure at the Sana’a airport. The airport was closed for commercial travel at Riyadh’s behest a few years ago, but UN planes were still allowed to deliver aid. Not only did the heightened measures stop aid delivery through the Sana’a airport, but proceeding airstrikes rendered the entire airport useless.
100+ infected, 14 dead from diphtheria
Yemeni doctors now warn of a diphtheria outbreak that has already infected over 100 people and taken the lives of at least 14. Most of the victims are children.
Diphtheria is an airborne illness caused by bacteria that spreads very quickly. The disease is easily preventable through vaccines and easily treatable with antibiotics. Lack of medical supplies puts thousands if not millions at risk of contracting the fatal illness.
The United States is a willing participant in this war and siege. In addition to providing weapons and military support to Saudi Arabia and their proxies in Yemen, the US also patrols the Red Sea enforcing the blockade.