UN agencies voice concern over humanitarian impact of Yemen blockade

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-11 08:54:22|Editor: Xiang Bo
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UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- Several UN agencies have expressed grave concern over the impact of the land, sea and air blockade imposed by the Saudi-led military coalition on Yemen, said the office of the spokesperson for the UN secretary-general Friday.

The representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Yemen, Meritxell Relano, said the blockade that prevents the movement of aid personnel and the delivery of vital assistance to children in desperate need has worsened what was already a catastrophic situation.

It is essential that the Red Sea port of Hudaydah, the lifeline for humanitarian supplies, be reopened, said the UNICEF representative.

The blockade was also preventing vaccines from reaching Yemen, leaving at least 1 million children under the age of 1 more exposed to diseases such as polio and measles. Current stocks are expected to run out within a month, said Relano.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that more people will die if ports in Yemen do not reopen to humanitarian aid.

Peter Salama, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said that his agency and other aid organizations need immediate and unhindered humanitarian access to Yemen, which is facing the world's largest cholera outbreak and where 7 million people are on the brink of famine, including some 2 million severely malnourished children.

The WHO said that its supplies are critically low. On Wednesday, the WHO was prevented from delivering 250 tonnes of medical supplies via sea.

The United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) is concerned about the effects of the closure on the Yemeni people, particularly the 2.2 million women of childbearing age, among whom some 352,000 are pregnant. The UNFPA estimates that some 52,800 pregnant women risk complications with immediate danger to their lives if they do not get urgent life-saving maternal care and medicines.

The lack of food, poor nutrition, the unprecedented scale of the cholera outbreak and the near erosion of national health system is also making Yemen extremely dangerous for all, especially for women and girls.

The UNFPA calls for immediate humanitarian access to reach those in need, especially when Yemen already has one of the highest maternal death rates in the Arab world.

The Saudi-led coalition sealed off Yemen after Saudi Arabia intercepted a missile launched by Houthi rebels in Yemen toward the Saudi capital city of Riyadh.

Saudi claimed that the purpose of the total closure was to prevent Houthi forces from getting Iranian weapons.