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Yemen Genocide Accelerates: Worst Humanitarian Crisis in the World Now, Says UN OCHA

Feb. 3, 2017 (EIRNS)—The years of malnutrition in war-torn Yemen are now beginning to take their toll in a devastating way. The number of civilian deaths from the war is estimated to have been 11,403 in November 2016, after 600 days of Saudi-led bombing. Now the deaths from starvation are rapidly overtaking the direct casualties from war. UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, reported Jan. 31 that 63,000 children had died during 2016 from malnutrition in Yemen. Almost half a million children are in "severe acute malnutrition," i.e. about to die. 3.3 million, among them 2.2 million children, are in "acute malnutrition."

Some 14 million people are currently "food insecure" of whom half are "severely food insecure." This means that at least 7 million people need emergency food assistance to survive.

The UN Security Council discussed the possibilities to open the airport and the Houdeida harbor in order to provide emergency humanitarian assistance. Some 20,000 persons are waiting to go abroad to get specialized medical treatment. The airport of the capital, Sana’a, which is closed because it was bombed, is also important to bring in journalists as it is almost impossible to travel to Yemen now, and very little independent news comes out. The only harbor under control of the Sana’a government, Houdeida, is blockaded by sea. The harbor cranes there were bombed by the Saudis and four new mobile cranes brought by the World Food Program are not allowed to land and are currently waiting in the ship at sea.

Our source said there is no new resolution or amendment of UNSC Resolution 2216 in the pipeline. What complicated the picture is that the British are the Security Council "penholder," meaning that the British UN representatives are supposed to write any amendment of this resolution.

The above information is from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

What therefore is left to do, to bring in the food and to stop the war, is to change the implementation of the Resolution 2216, as most of its implementation is illegal. The UN does not condone starvation or war crimes in the implementation of its policies and resolutions.

Here all pressure from both international non-governmental organiozations (NGOs) and governments is absolutely necessary. There are so many tricks with the implementation of the resolution and the blockades, that have to be identified. One of them is that most imports of food, medicine, and fuel have been stopped at the harbor of origin, pending acceptance of an application for import permission. However, this permission is almost never accepted, as the application has to be sent to the Yemeni Transport Ministry of the Hadi government in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where they block it, and thereby prevent the imports getting to the North. Even paperwork requests for humanitarian assistance have difficulty getting permission.

The Hadi government is in physical control of the other major harbor in Yemen, Aden, but this harbor is extremely insecure because of the proliferation of undisciplined militias and outright terrorist bands like Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Daesh (ISIS). The UN relief organizations therefore cannot bring the food ashore in Aden, and the food remains at sea or in Djibouti in eastern Africa.

On Dec. 6, 2016 Oxfam demanded the lifting of the import restrictions to Yemen for food, fuel and medicine. Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB Chief Executive, said:

"Yemen is being slowly starved to death. First there were restrictions on imports—including much needed food—when this was partially eased, the cranes in the ports were bombed, then the warehouses, then the roads and the bridges. This is not by accident—it is systematic. The country’s economy, its institutions, its ability to feed and care for its people are all on the brink of collapse. There is still time to pull it back before we see chronic hunger becoming widespread starvation. The fighting needs to stop and the ports should be fully opened to vital supplies of food, fuel and medicine."

There are 12 international humanitarian NGOs that demanded on Aug. 16, 2016, that the restrictions for the civilian air traffic to Yemen be lifted. These NGOs were ACF International, ACTED, Care, Danish Refugee Council, Global Communities, Handicap International, International Rescue Committee, Intersos, Mercy Corps, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam and Save the Children.

UN Resolution 2216 violates the statutes of the UN Charter by putting the whole blame on one party of a domestic conflict, which is against the UN policy of reconciliation and noninterference in domestic conflicts. Then it encourages the Saudi-led coalition to enforce the disarmament of the party blamed, the Houthis, with a war on Yemen.

The bombing war is illegal, as it perpetrates war crimes against Yemenis by systematically attacking 1) civilian targets including houses, hospitals, schools, markets, funerals; 2) the food procurements, the harbor, the roads and bridges, fuel and food storages, food production, dams; even farm fields have been rendered unusable with cluster bombs; 3) the ancient cultural heritage, museums, cities, mosques—a world heritage.

Even the U.K. Ministry of Defense has said it has noted 252 alleged violations of international humanitarian law carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war. This also makes the arms trade to Saudi Arabia from U.K., U.S. and Sweden illegal.

Addressing these illegalities is now urgently needed to stop the genocide. Especially as the Saudis in the last days have decided to enforce their blockade against Houdeida, the only harbor that can reach the majority of the population in Yemen.

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