Source: Council on Foreign Relations

Averting famine will require Saudi Arabia to permit the resumption of commercial shipping of food and fuel to the besieged country.

Yemen is on course for a famine whose death toll could reach the millions, says Oxfam America’s Scott Paul, an expert on humanitarian policy. The country relies on imports for its fuel, food, and medicine, but shipments slowed to a trickle after Saudi Arabia began policing Yemeni ports in 2015 as part of a campaign to push Houthi rebels and their allies loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of Sana’a. After intercepting a missile fired at Riyadh from Yemen in early November, Saudi Arabia ratcheted up its blockade, sealing off rebel-held ports. Though it has since permitted some humanitarian aid, only a resumption of commercial shipments can avert famine, Paul says.

Three weeks after the Saudi-led coalition cut off access to rebel-held parts of Yemen, the first humanitarian shipments arrived on Sunday. Does this mark a loosening of the blockade? Essentially the blockade is still in place. Over the past three weeks, what started out as a total blockade morphed into a blockade of Houthi- and Saleh-held ports and crossings, including the port of Hodeidah. It’s the main artery for about 75 percent of Yemen’s population. Now humanitarian aid shipments may be let in, but in the big picture, little has changed.  READ MORE…

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