Attack on Yemen port 'will draw famine closer'

Attack on Yemen port 'will draw famine closer'
The United Nations warns that there are no viable alternatives to getting aid into Yemen as the Saudi-led coalition considers launching an operation on the Hodeidah port.
2 min read
19 May, 2017
Over half of the country's population is currently reliant on aid, food, medical supplies [Getty]
An attack on Yemen's Hodeidah port will take the war-torn country a step closer to famine, a United Nations official warned on Thursday.

The Red Sea port, which is the target of a planned assault by the Saudi-led military coalition, is the entry point for around 80 percent of Yemen's food imports.

The Saudi-led Arab military alliance in Yemen accuses the Houthi rebels of using the key port to smuggle weapons.

"Let me be clear, there is no viable option [for aid supplies] to the port of Hodeidah," UN World Food Programme director of emergencies Denise Brown told reporters in Rome. She added that 75 percent of WFP food assistance enters Yemen through the western port city.

Brown said deliveries by plane could cost up to ten times the cost of sea freight, while other ports, like Aden, were not fit for purpose.

According to WFP, the closure of the Hodeidah port could impact food access for over five million people.

"Without our assistance those people are going to slide faster towards famine," Brown said.

A coalition source claimed earlier this month that the Saudi-led military coalition is planning for alternative entry routes for aid in the event that operations focus on Hodeidah.

Since Yemen's war began in early March 2015, more than 10,000 people have been killed.

Over half of the country's 28 million population is currently reliant on aid and food. Medical supplies are low as the country battles a recent outbreak of cholera that has killed around 200 people in less than three weeks.