Saudi Arabian-Led Siege Blocks Vital Fuels To Yemenis

Analysis of port and ship tracking data reveals that no fuel shipments have reached Yemen’s largest port for a month following a Saudi Arabian-led blockade on the war-torn Yemen tightens regardless of international calls for the siege to end.

The tankers laden with oil have turned away from Hodeida, the biggest entry point for cargo to the devastated north, without unloading. The United Nations’ body tasked with inspecting ships seeking to enter the area said on Wednesday it could not say when such ships would be allowed through.

The shortage of fuels means areas hardest hit by war, malnutrition and cholera lack functioning hospital generators, cooking fuel and water pumps. It also makes it harder to move food and medical aid around the country. At least one in four people in the nation of 28 million is starving, according to the United Nations, as a three-year civil war, stoked by regional foes Saudi Arabia and Iran, rages on.

The UN and individual governments have urged Saudi Arabia over the past few weeks to loosen its blockade on Yemen’s northern Red Sea ports.

Read More: Red Cross: Saudi Arabia’s Blockade Deprives 2.5 Million Yemenis Of Accessing Clean Water

A spokesperson for the UN inspection body, the Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM), said the Saudi-led coalition forces have refused tankers permission to enter Hodeida despite its approval, “and repeated attempts by the vessels to proceed … The coalition has repeatedly said their priority is food only.”

The UNVIM spokesperson said: “the coalition has turned away up to 12 tankers in recent weeks”, he added: “UNVIM is unable to say when the coalition will allow fuel tankers to enter Yemen’s Red Sea ports’ anchorage areas.”

Saudi Arabia and its allies, with the backing of the US, first positioned warships in Yemeni waters in 2015. Since then, commercial shipments to Hodeida and other ports controlled by Iran-backed Houthi militia have suffered severe restrictions and delays.

Earlier in November, after a Houthi ballistic missile was fired into Riyadh, Saudi Arabia blocked all Yemen’s ports, preventing any shipments – including humanitarian aid – from entering the country.

Since then, Riyadh has reopened southern ports, including Aden, which are under the control of the Saudi-backed internationally recognized government, and allowed humanitarian aid into Hodeida.

According to Hodeida port records, Saudi-led military forces last month ordered at least six oil tankers to leave the port before unloading. Captain Mohammed Ishaq, executive chairman of the Yemen Red Sea Ports Corporation, which operates Hodeida, told Reuters on Tuesday no fuel shipments had reached the port since Nov. 6.

Last week, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned that water systems in nine cities including Hodeida had run out of fuel stocks. Since then, “as a last resort,” it said it has supplied fuel to the water authorities of Hodeida and Taiz to help provide clean water to over one million people, as well as to several hospitals in the embattled capital of Sanaa.

Shane Stevenson, Yemen country director with aid group Oxfam said: “We’re facing the worst famine seen in decades, and that won’t change unless commercial shipments of food and fuel are allowed in,”

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