Yemen blockade killing as many civilians as war: Aid group chief
A fighter loyal to Yemen's exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi walks with crutches in Yemen's second city of Aden on July 30, 2015.
Riyadh - The Saudi-led coalition declared a five-day humanitarian pause to allow in aid beginning last Monday, but it collapsed the next day.
Published: Fri 31 Jul 2015, 12:00 AM
Last updated: Sun 9 Aug 2015, 12:55 PM
The Saudi-led military coalition's blockade of Yemen is "killing" as many civilians as the war, the head of aid group Doctors Without Borders said on Thursday during a visit to the country.
By preventing medicine from reaching the sick, the blockade is "killing as (many people as) the current conflict," Joanne Liu said in a telephone interview from Yemen's rebel-held capital Sanaa.
The Saudi-led coalition has imposed a land, sea and air blockade, that has hampered the flow of aid deliveries and rebels too have set up blockades in areas under their control. Liu said she understood the need for the coalition to enforce a blockade of Yemen, where the Houthis are under a UN Security Council arms embargo.
"But we need to put in place ways to get supplies to come in, in a safe way, and people can get their medicine and not die" of easily treatable diseases, said Liu.
"What we have to remember is Yemen is 90 per cent dependent on external supply for food, 100 per cent for medical supplies," said Liu, the international president of the Swiss-based Charity.
Liu, a Canadian doctor who was flying out after almost two weeks in Yemen, has visited the rebel-held north and the southern district of Taez. "We see patients right now dying because they're not getting their treatment" for common illnesses, she said.
The Saudi-led coalition declared a five-day humanitarian pause to allow in aid beginning last Monday, but it collapsed the next day.
"We're concerned," Liu said. "Right now there's not a total truce going on."
Liu said the number of internally displaced people is increasing, and the fighting is preventing people from reaching medical facilities.
One mother walked for six hours to reach a clinic with her malnourished child, but the youngster died a few hours later, she said.
"That's the type of scenario we see repeatedly right now."
Liu spoke of the difficulties they face in trying to provide care.
In the rebel heartland of Saada, there are air strikes every one or two days, she said.
"One day out of two our team are spending their time in the basement waiting for air strikes to stop," she said, while in other parts of the country there is a danger from snipers. - AFP