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Yemen on the brink of famine after two years of conflict

The streets of Sanaa are particularly marked by the bombardments. (ICRC)

(B2) The war in Yemen, pitting Yemeni Shiite rebels against a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia and supported by the United States, enters its third year next Sunday (March 26). A very little publicized conflict. According to the UN, famine threatens and more than 17 million people need food assistance, or 60% of the population. Six non-governmental organizations (Action Against Hunger, CARE, Handicap International, Médecins du Monde, Première Urgence Internationale, Solidarités International), currently operational in Yemen, are asking the international community to mobilize and put pressure on those in power. to change things… because the situation risks getting worse.

Open air massacre 

The six NGOs are alarmed by the massive and repeated use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas in Yemen. Contrary to international humanitarian law, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas has increased in contemporary conflicts in defiance of the fundamental principles of war. " The bombardments that rain down every day in Yemen show an absolute disregard for the lives of civilians! This open-air massacre is unbearable and unworthy of our time says indignant Jean-Pierre Delomier, Handicap International's emergency action manager.

Sanitary system on the edge of collapse

Added to this is the destruction of “ more than half of the sanitary facilities (hospitals or health centers) in the country. " The health system in Yemen, particularly affected by the conflict, threatens to collapse » warn the representatives of the organizations. Establishments are also penalized by the blockade imposed and the financial crisis hitting the country: the supply of drugs and medical equipment remains very difficult and health personnel have not been paid for many months. Cholera has returned. “Since last October more than 20 suspected cases and nearly 000 deaths » warns Doctor Jean-François Corty, director of international operations for Doctors of the World.

Limited humanitarian access on all sides

“Access to vulnerable populations remains very limited and is one of the major challenges for humanitarian actors. " The problem is very political. specifies André Krummacher, Director of Programs at Acted. " On both sides, belligerents sometimes refuse aid distributions. » Added to this is the partial or total destruction of numerous infrastructures (roads, bridges, airports, ports) and limited public buildings. “ For humanitarian workers, the difficulties of access to populations tend to increase. »

A political problem...

This is a very complex war, given the number and profile of its protagonists. Rebels from the north of the country, the Houthis, allied with supporters of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, are fighting the camp of current president Rabbo Mansour Hadi. This is supported by an Arab military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which launched an offensive in March 2015 to prevent the rebels from taking control of the entire territory. Result: the country is fragmented, the economy in ruins, and al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group are trying to take advantage of this chaos.

… made worse by the import blockade

Before the war, Yemen bought 90% of its food from abroad. United Nations Resolution 2216 of April 2015, which notably established an arms embargo against the Houthis and their allies, “ has turned into a de facto air and sea blockade preventing almost all imports of basic necessities, including food » according to NGOs. A resolution that the EU has transcribed into law (read:Additional sanctions in Yemen)


(1) The six NGOs are:


Leonor Hubaut

© B2 - Bruxelles2 is a French online media that focuses on political Europe (powers, defence, foreign policy, internal security). It follows and analyzes developments in European policy, unvarnished and without concessions. Approved by the CPPAP. Member of SPIIL. Please quote "B2" or "Bruxelles2" in case of recovery Leonor Hubaut is a journalist. Graduated in international relations from the Free University of Brussels (specialization in globalization). She covers for B2 the work of the European Parliament, CSDP missions and African issues. Sahel specialist.