Saturday, August 29, 2015

Saudi-led bombing in Yemen exacerbates the humanitarian disaster


Hodeida - White House National Security Council spokesperson Alistair Baskey said that the US is very concerned over recent Saudi-led air strikes on the Yemeni port city of Hodeida in Yemen.
The port is used by the UN as a key entrance to deliver aid to areas of Yemen controlled by the Houthi rebels. The strikes that are supposedly aimed at the Houthi rebels in control of Hodeida, reportedly killed dock workers and damaged infrastructure needed for the port to function properly. Baskey said:"We are deeply concerned by the August 18 attack on critical infrastructure at the port of Hodeida in Yemen.The port is a crucial lifeline used to provide medicine, food and fuel to Yemen's population."Saudi bombing has before interfered with delivery of aid. In the capital the runway at the Sanaa airport was bombed to prevent an Iranian aid plane from landing. The Saudis suspected the plane carried military equipment. However, the bombing prevented UN aid planes from landing as well.
The bombing of Hodeida has been criticized also by the EU and the UN. A UN aid official told the UN Security Council that the attacks were 'in clear contravention of international humanitarian law'. Stephen O'brien who is head of UN aid said that the raids could severely impact an already deepening humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Almost 80 percent of Yemen's population of 26 million are now in need of aid with more than a million forced to leave their homes because of the conflict. After more than 150 days of conflict, nearly 4,500 have been killed since the Saudi-led air campaign began. Hospitals and rescue teams have been targeted making it too dangerous in some instances for medical aid agencies to help. At the same, medical facilities lack critical supplies. Even in Aden, recently retaken by forces loyal to the Hadi government-in-exile the situation is so bad that the Red Cross has withdrawn its personnel because of the security situation. Part of Aden is now under control of fighters from Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula.
The UN health agency notes that nearly half of Yemen's health facilities have simply shut down leaving wounded civilians fewer and fewer places to receive treatment. In contested areas such as the central city of Taiz the situation is drastic. Dr. Ahmed Shadout of WHO said: “In Taiz, the ongoing crisis has led to the closure of many health facilities and access to health facilities for the injured civilians and doctors is almost becoming impossible; shortages of basic and lifesaving medicines, medical supplies, laboratory reagents in the health facilities are fast dwindling with limited access for replenishing,”Funds for WHO operations are meagre with the organization receiving only $25 million of $132 million it had requested.
The Saudis have targeted residential areas in some instances most recently in Taiz and Hodeida.The Saudis have also been accused of using cluster bombs in some bombing attacks. While there is an international treaty banning their use, neither the US nor Saudi Arabia have signed on to the treaty. A Pentagon official told US News that "the US is aware that Saudi Arabia has used cluster munitions in Yemen". The US considers the bombs a legitimate military weapon.

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