YEMEN: Military Action Near Hodeidah City Threatens Food Supplies for Millions of Children

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Sept. 13, 2018)—Save the Children is deeply worried for the welfare of 4.2 million children in Yemen on the brink of starvation following reports that the Yemeni Army, backed by the Saudi- and Emirati-led Coalition, has launched airstrikes outside the port city of Hodeidah, effectively shutting down the main artery linking the port city to the rest of the country. The charity is calling on parties to the conflict to ensure the road linking Hodeidah to the rest of the country remains open and safe to use.

Hodeidah is home to Yemen’s largest port and the main gateway for food, fuel and humanitarian aid to the rest of the country. An estimated 80 percent of Yemen’s commercial supplies go through Hodeidah. The Yemeni Government and the Saudi- and Emirati-led Coalition have been trying to retake the vital port city from the Houthis for the past few months, displacing 470,000 people since June, according to the UN. But it is still home to hundreds of thousands of civilians, half of them children.

“I cannot emphasise enough how vital it is that the main road linking Hodeidah to Sana’a remains open and accessible for the movement of people, food, fuel and aid to the rest of the country. It’s quite literally a matter of life and death,” said Tamer Kirolos, Yemen Country Director for Save the Children.

“Yemeni children are starving to death. This year alone we expect some 400,000 children under five to suffer from severe acute malnutrition, the most life-threatening form of extreme hunger. Unless supply routes remain open this figure could increase dramatically, putting the lives of thousands of children at risk from entirely preventable causes.

“We urge all parties to end hostilities immediately, commit to a ceasefire and give peace a chance. With the UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, due in Yemen this weekend, now is not the time to escalate the conflict. The people of Yemen have suffered enough misery.”

The past two months have seen a marked increase in the number of airstrikes targeting non-military sites in Yemen, including recent attacks on a school bus in Saada and a hospital in Hodeidah. The Yemen Data Project says that in August the number of air raids targeting non-military sites (39%) was more than double that of military sites (18%).

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