A malnourished Yemeni child receives treatment amid worsening malnutrition in the emergency ward of a hospital in Sana'a, Yemen.
A malnourished Yemeni child receives treatment amid worsening malnutrition in the emergency ward of a hospital in Sana'a, Yemen. YAHYA ARHAB

Saudis block roads into Yemen, starving millions

THE United Nations says seven million people are on the brink of starvation in Yemen because of a Saudi-led blockade of goods and humanitarian relief headed for the war-torn country.

All air, land and sea access to Yemen was blocked by the Saudi-led military coalition on November 6 after a missile fired from Yemen towards the Saudi capital was intercepted.

The Saudis insist the blockade is required to stop the flow of arms from Iran to its Houthi opponents in the war in Yemen, but a US-funded survey warns famine is likely in many areas of the country within three to four months.

"Thousands of deaths would occur each day due to the lack of food and disease outbreaks,” the Famine Early Warning Systems Network said in a statement.

At least 80 per cent of Yemen's food must be imported.

Earlier this week, the World Food Program said of the country's 26 million people, 17 million did not know where their next meal was coming from and seven million were totally dependent on food assistance.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has also warned that 2.5 million people in Yemen's cities have no access to clean water, raising the risk of a cholera epidemic.

Since April more than 940,000 people in Yemen have been infected with cholera, killing at least 2200, the ICRC has reported.

Amnesty International has called on the Australian Government to disclose all defence deals it has made with Saudi Arabia and says Canberra "is legally obliged” to make sure any defence sales are not being used to commit human rights violations in Yemen.

"In the past 12 months the Australian Department of Defence has approved four different military licences to Saudi Arabia,” Amnesty International's Rasha Mohamed told the ABC's 7.30 program on Tuesday night.

In August the Australian Navy and the Saudi Navy conducted joint exercises in the Red Sea, leading to criticism from aid and human rights groups and the Australian Defence Association.



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