Millions still deprived of food and supplies in conditions akin to 'medieval siege,' aid agencies warn, as Saudi Arabia continues blockade on ports
The Saudi-led coalition is pushing Yemen towards an "apocalyptic situation," aid agencies warned on Wednesday, the 1,000th day since the beginning of a military intervention by Riyadh which has rained bombs on the country and starved its people amid conditions akin to a "medieval siege".
Millions of Yemenis continue to be deprived of food, fuel, and medicine as Saudi Arabia maintains its blockade on the northern ports of Yemen.
The blockade has further compounded the precarious situation inside Yemen and, according to a report published by Oxfam on Wednesday, pushed millions of Yemenis to the brink of famine.
And the war seems to be moving into a more dangerous phase.
Last week saw claims by the US that Iran is supplying short-range ballistic missiles to the Houthis, which Tehran on Wednesday denied.
On Tuesday, an attempted missile strike on a royal palace in the Saudi capital was launched by Houthi rebels. The missile, the third in six weeks launched from Yemen, was intercepted by Saudi air defences.
Nearly 5,300 civilians have been killed while three million have been forced to flee their homes over the past 1,000 days, according to Oxfam.
'We are now witnessing a medieval siege where mass starvation is being used as a weapon of war'- Mark Goldring, Oxfam
The UK-based charity also noted that one million people are suspected to have contracted cholera, a disease caused by contaminated water, in the world's worst outbreak ever recorded.
Civilian casualties due to the violence are being dwarfed by deaths due to disease and hunger, although exact figures have not been collected.
Save the Children warned last month that 50,000 children would die by the end of the year, with the UN warning that one child was dying every 10 minutes from preventable causes including diarrhoea, breathing infections and malnutrition.
Oxfam said that all parties to the conflict bear responsibility for the "huge levels of human suffering and all are responsible for violations of international humanitarian law".
But it said that countries that had supplied Saudi Arabia with weapons, including the UK and the US, had fuelled the destruction and called on world leaders to pressure all parties to the conflict to "reach an immediate ceasefire to end the bloodshed".
Mark Goldring, Oxfam's Chief executive said that the UK in particular had to act decisively because of its responsibility for Yemen on the United Nations Security Council.
"For 1,000 days, huge amounts of sophisticated modern weapons have pounded Yemen. We are now witnessing a medieval siege where mass starvation is being used as a weapon of war," said Goldring.
"The UK, as the country responsible for action on Yemen on the UN Security Council, can make a difference. It needs to act decisively, use its unique position to bring collective action to end the blockade."
Oxfam's call for action was echoed by Tamer Kirolos, Yemen country director for Save the Children.
“It’s been 1,000 days since the Saudi Arabia and UAE-led coalition started bombing and fighting in Yemen, and even longer since deadly violence broke out across the country. In that time, the devastation of Yemen has been unimaginably absolute. The conduct of all warring parties, without exception, has been deplorable," he said.