Famine as a Weapon of War · LRB 15 June 2017


  • Alex de Waal · The #Nazis Used It, We Use It: #Famine as a Weapon of War · LRB 15 June 2017

    #Yemen, however, is the biggest impending disaster. Don’t be fooled by pictures showing hungry people in arid landscapes: the weather had nothing to do with the famine. More than seven million people in Yemen are hungry; far more are likely to die of starvation and disease than in battles and air raids. The military intervention led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has strangled the country’s economy.

    Before the war, 80 per cent of Yemen’s food was imported, mostly through the Red Sea port of al-Hudaida. At Saudi insistence, backed by the US and the UK, the UN Security Council imposed a blockade on Yemen and while there’s an exemption for food, the inspection procedures are slow and laborious. Since Saudi aircraft bombed the container docks at al-Hudaida, all ships have to be unloaded the old-fashioned way, using derricks and stevedores. Roads, bridges and markets have been damaged or destroyed, slowing commerce to a crawl. The Bank of Yemen, relocated from the Houthi-controlled capital, Sana’a, to the enclave controlled by the recognised government, no longer pays salaries. The Houthi forces also impose their own blockades, laying siege to the highland city of Taizz. Food is the biggest weapon, and lack of food the biggest killer, in the Yemen war.