Peter Oborne and Nawal al-Maghafi have produced an extensive report on the appalling conditions in Yemen. Here they discuss some of the effects of the Saudi-led blockade:
We were also told by doctors that the blockade of Yemen, legitimised by the United Nations Security Council, and backed by Britain and the United States to prevent arms supplies reaching the warring sides, has also prevented vital drugs and medical equipment from reaching the country.
‘There are babies dying in incubators because we can’t get supplies to treat them’
At the Republic teaching hospital in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, Dr Ahmed Yahya al-Haifi spelt out what he saw as the consequences of the Saudi blockade: “We are unable to get medical supplies. Anaesthetics. Medicines for kidneys. There are babies dying in incubators because we can’t get supplies to treat them.”
Al-Haifi estimated that 25 people were dying every day at the Republic hospital for want of medical supplies [bold mine-DL]. “They call it natural death,” he said. “But it’s not. If we had the medicines they wouldn’t be dead.
“I consider them killed as if they were killed by an air strike, because if we had the medicines they would still be alive.”
The U.N. recently claimed that the death toll from the war had reached 10,000, but that figure must be significantly undercounting the victims of the last seventeen months. Many civilians are perishing from lack of food and medicine and aren’t yet being counted among the war’s victims. The Saudi-led blockade is responsible for depriving most of the population of basic necessities. As the authors note elsewhere in the report, “much of the country is on the verge of starvation.”
Afrah Nasser wrote yesterday about the near-famine conditions that threaten the lives of millions of Yemenis:
These shocking statistics warn that Yemenis soon will be put to death by starvation, as the war has no end in sight. As long the world remains indifferent and timely action to prevent it is not taken, all indicators show a famine is all but inevitable [bold mine-DL].
Many Yemenis suffered from hunger before the war, but the war has made conditions dramatically worse for the entire population. All sides have used food as a weapon, but the coalition blockade has had by far the most severe effect on millions of people. Like other modern famines, the one that is being created in Yemen is entirely man-made, and the coalition and its Western backers bear the greatest responsibility for it. It could still be prevented if there were a concerted effort to save Yemen from starvation, but there seems to be very little interest in making that effort. All of the governments with the resources to do this are either oblivious to the need or complicit in creating the catastrophe.
Oborne and al-Maghafi conclude their report with this:
Although thousands of Yemenis have become refugees, very few have reached the soil of Europe to attract the attention of media or politicians.
They have almost no hope of doing so. To escape by land, refugees would have to traverse hundreds of miles of desert controlled by Saudi Arabia, the country bombing them. To escape by sea they must evade the naval blockade, only to land on the unfriendly coast of Eritrea.
This means that, although their situation is almost as desperate as that of the victims of Syria’s war, the Yemenis are invisible to Europe. That is not good enough. A calamity, aided and abetted in the West, is unfolding in Yemen, and it is time the world woke up to that fact.