The United Nations is calling for humanitarian aid as millions of Yemenis struggle against starvation amidst continued violence and destruction perpetrated by the Saudi-backed coalition.
In what has been referred to as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, over 8.4 million are at risk of famine, disease and death, the international organization reported, adding that this figure is up by two million from last year’s report.
Despite U.N. efforts to curb the rising number of victims, blockades at vital ports have seriously prevented resources from reaching needy families since the area was seized in March 2015.
Four mobile cranes arrived in Hodeidah, the U.N. said on Monday, after the coalition agreed to let them into Yemen, where nearly three years of war have pushed it to the verge of famine.
In what the World Food Program, WFP, calls a major “breakthrough,” the ship carrying the cranes was finally permitted to enter the port Tuesday. However, in order to avoid the impending famine, militant actors will have to allow regular shipments of humanitarian aid, such as food and medicine, into the country, the U.N. reported.
“The port, in theory, is going be open to the 19th of this month. Then we don’t know if the coalition will close or (leave) it open,” Meritxell Relano, U.N. Children’s Fund Representative in Yemen, said during a news briefing in Geneva.
“Obviously the feeling is that they extend this period so that the commercial goods can come in, but especially the fuel,” she said, speaking from the capital Sanaa.
More than 11 million children, out of the entire 29 million Yemeni population, need humanitarian assistance, Relano said. Unicef figures show 25,000 Yemeni babies die at birth or before the age of one month.
“Yemen is in the grips of the world’s biggest hunger crisis,” WFP spokeswoman Bettina Luescher said. “This is a nightmare that is happening right now.”
Since the coalition began in 2015, a total of 9,245 have been killed in Yemen, the World Health Organization reports, while over 50,000 have been left wounded and millions more have been displaced.