RNA - After the UN sponsored peace talks in Sweden last month, the Ansarullah resistance group and Saudi-backed forces reached the deal on Hodeida, the entry point for most of Yemen’s commercial goods and aid supplies, and a lifeline for millions of Yemenis on the verge of starvation.
The problem began when Saudi Arabia refused to stop all its air strikes. That’s why now the 15-member UN Security Council needs to take action on Guterres’ request by about Jan. 20, when a 30-day authorization for an advance monitoring team expires.
Stated differently, despite the truce, the United Nations still remains desperately focused on one of its equally daunting undertakings: how to send more humanitarian aid to the besieged city of Hodeida. A joint statement from the World Health Program, the World Food Program, and UNICEF, appealing for humanitarian access and an end to the conflict says: “The conflict in Yemen has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, a crisis which has engulfed the entire country.”
About 75 percent of Yemen’s population is in need of humanitarian assistance, including 11.3 million children who cannot survive without it. At least 60 percent of Yemenis don't have enough to eat, and 16 million people do not have safe water and proper sanitation. Many more can't get basic health services.
The US-backed, Saudi-led war has been ongoing since 2015. As a consequence, millions more also face acute food insecurity, and the number of people living on the edge has gone up significantly.
Worse still, hunger and disease are on the rise for people with no food access, utilization, availability, quality and sustainability in all of the country. The horrific tally of the conflict’s devastation reflects only what we know. In reality, the situation is worse. UN agencies do not have full humanitarian access to some of the hardest hit communities - where there is no truce. In many, they cannot even assess their needs. All they say is that Yemen has passed the tipping point into a rapid decline from crisis to deepening catastrophe – all because the Saudis and their allies refuse to fully lift the illegal blockade everywhere.
The international agencies, however, say there has been “some progress” recently with the arrival of the first commercial fuel imports and food aid, following recent pressures from the UN and the international civil society on Riyadh to lift the blockade on Hodeida under the truce agreement, but major commercial food imports are yet to be allowed in.
According to Fars News Agancy, it should be clear by now that if UN aid agencies cannot gain greater access and the Saudi airstrikes do not subside, the cost in lives will be incalculable, not just in the Hodeida province but across other regions. To be sure, the Saudi-led blockade has exacerbated a humanitarian crisis that aid groups are calling the most severe in decades. Saudi Arabia claims it has started reopening some sea and airports, but aid workers are still reporting difficulty in providing food and medical supplies to nearly 20 million people who need help. Even Western media outlets report that the Saudis are not fully committed to the ceasefire agreement despite Western pressure.
At any rate, the truce still holds, Yemen needs truce monitors, and as per International Humanitarian Law, the UN Charter, and the laws of war: Saudi Arabia must respect the deal and open land, air and sea routes into Yemen. Due to the criminal blockade, millions are relying on food rations from the World Food Program and other aid groups, and if the Saudis prevent these humanitarian programs, they can and should be held to account at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
For one thing, The Hague should also hold the United States government to account because the US is still providing support to the Saudi bombing campaign and blockade all because the people of Yemen would never consent to be ruled by Saudi Arabia and the US. The UN Security Council should pass a resolution that says the US military is not authorized to assist Saudi Arabia as long as the truce holds.