Sana'a, Yemen, March 31, 2017 —
IRC Yemen Country Director, Mohamed El Montassir Hussein, said:
"The IRC is deeply concerned by reports that the U.S. is considering increasing military assistance to the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen. We are particularly alarmed by emerging information that this attack could target Yemen’s western port city of Hodeidah, where 80% of all imports enter Yemen.
Any disruption of these port facilities would have a catastrophic impact on the people of Yemen – denying food and medicine to civilians already suffering immeasurably after two years of war.
The IRC and other humanitarian actors already face major operational obstacles created by the ongoing conflict. Sea and air blockades that are already in place mean essential humanitarian supplies in Yemen are scarce, and will become even scarcer if these attacks go ahead. An attack will also lead to all shipping vessels being be diverted, overwhelming the capacity of other ports in Aden and Mokala.
Currently it can take up to 6 months for the IRC to get life-saving medical supplies from outside the country into health facilities. At a point when time is of the essence to save lives these attacks would delay humanitarian assistance and further risk lives of Yemini civilians. Once the IRC and other actors do get supplies into the country, limitations on transport infrastructure and rampant insecurity along inland roads makes movement between north and south Yemen extremely difficult. This situation means we are unable to make timely deployments of supplies or personnel necessary for an effective humanitarian response.
The solution to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is not more conflict; parties need to get back to the peace process. We urge the U.S. to use its influence to restart a peace process rather than fuel more conflict. Yemen is facing the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. The country imports 90% of its staple foods, yet warring groups are deliberately blocking vital supply routes. As a result, 17 million people – almost two thirds of the population – are critically food insecure and parts of the country are on the brink of famine. Urgent humanitarian assistance is needed however, the single greatest barrier to helping ease the suffering of Yemen’s people is still humanitarian access."