Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Yemen War Has Not Gone Away

The Saudi-led coalition allows a small amount of food, fuel and medicine to enter northern Yemen through Hodeidah. But this is little more than a humanitarian gesture aimed at maintaining the inaction of western allies. It is economic strangulation and war that is driving the country towards a manmade famine. Many more Yemeni children are dying every day from lack of food, medicine and clean water than from fighting.

Almost two-thirds of the population need emergency support. The food system is collapsing, pushing the country to the brink of famine. Over 400,000 children are at imminent risk of starvation.

Economic collapse has been the catalyst for economic crisis. Jobs, economic infrastructure and basic services have been systematically targeted by acts of war. Coalition airstrikes have targeted warehouses, factories and – critically – transport infrastructure. The economic assault has trapped millions of Yemenis in a vicious spiral of rising food and fuel prices, unemployment and declining wages.
The road from Sana’a to the port of Hodeidah, one of Yemen’s main arteries, bears the scars of economic warfare with many of its bridges destroyed. The port itself is a ghost town. Saudi bombs have destroyed the five cranes that once unloaded ships carrying 80% of Yemen’s imports, along with grain storage silos. Over 20,000 people have lost their jobs.
Economic collapse has been compounded by the collapse of the banking system. In 2016, Saudi authorities transferred the central bank from Sana’a to the southern city of Aden, which is controlled by its allies. The move effectively pulled the plug on public financing in northern governates under Houthi control, leaving more than 1.5 million health workers, teachers and water and sanitation workers without pay; and schools, hospitals and other basic services without budgets.
The general hospital in Amran is the main referral hospital, serving a population of over a million people. It has no antibiotics, no anaesthetics, and no drugs for obstetric emergencies. The hospital covers its costs by charging patients, who have to purchase their own drugs from private providers. Try imagining your nearest teaching hospital in the UK operating without the medicines you can get prescribed by any GP.

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