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Threat of famine looms as aid deliveries are blocked in Yemen

The blockage of aid shipments has threatened famine in Yemen, warned the United Nations, as fighting between the Yemeni government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and Houthi rebels, reportedly backed by Iran, continues.

In particular fighting has brokenout in regions surrounding the largest hospital in the port city of Hodeidah, which has made it difficult to access those most in need, including children.  The United Nations estimates that if this continues 14 million people, half of Yemen’s population, could be in a state of famine as a result of the conflict.

For the past two weeks, seven trucks delivering crucial aid have been blocked at Hodeidah port awaiting clearance. Having finally received clearance on Friday, aid is set to be delivered to the region.

The US and UN have called for a ceasefire and proposed to convene peace talks in Sweden to end Yemen’s three-and-half years war. Despite talk of peace negotiations; Geert Cappelaere, Middle East director for the UNICEF stated "the parties are intensifying the fighting”. On Friday, the Saudi-led coalition claimed to have been responsible for an attack on Sanaa International Airport and an adjoining air base being used by Houthi insurgents.

Children under five are at particular risk of dying from severe malnutrition as well as preventable diseases  such as measles, cholera and diphtheria. Geert Cappelaere notes that whilst these life-threatening diseases are preventable “not more than 40 percent of the children throughout Yemen are being vaccinated”. 

See more from Reuters here and here, and the Guardian here.

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