Some 85,000 children in Yemen under the age of five have are thought to have died of hunger or disease in the last three years.
Charity Save the Children estimates that 84,701 children have died since a Saudi Arabian-led coalition launched its war on Yemen in 2015. It comes as the Western-backed coalition wages an intense assault on Hodeidah—a city of hundreds of thousands of people.
The charity says its figure is a “conservative estimate,” based on data collected by the United Nations (UN). The real figure could be much higher.
Aid workers say many deaths go unreported because only half of the country's health facilities are functioning. Many people are too poor to access the ones that remain open.
The UN says more than 1.3 million children have been affected by severe malnutrition since the conflict began. And some 14 million people are on the brink of famine.
The crisis is largely down to a Saudi-led blockade on Hodeidah, a vital port city held by Yemeni rebels known as Houthis. Saudi Arabia attacked Yemen in 2015 after a Houthi uprising overthrew a regime friendly to the West’s interest.
Its blockade on Hodeidah has drastically reduced commercial food imports by 55,000 metric tons a month—enough to feed more than 4 million people.
Britain and the US firmly back Saudi Arabia’s war—despite international outrage at the Saudi regime’s crimes.
US president Donald Trump vowed on Tuesday to remain a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia, a key Western ally in the Middle East. His statement came in spite of mounting evidence that Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Meanwhile British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt called on Saudi Arabia to “stop famine and cholera intensifying” in Yemen ahead of a meeting with bin Salman last week. He also warned on Monday that proxy wars and rivalries in the Middle East—fuelled by Western interference—created a “First World War risk.
“Any small event can trigger a chain of events with utterly catastrophic consequences.”
Yet despite this Britain continues to sell billions of pounds worth of arms to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is Britain’s largest buyer of weaponry—a relationship designed to bolster Britain’s standing as an imperial power in the Middle East. Hunt also boasted last week that Britain is, “Not a minor power in the Middle East, we are a significant player.”
Britain has sold almost £5 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since its war on Yemen began in March 2015.