Al Mukalla: The governor of Yemen’s Hodeida has declared the Red Sea province a disaster area due to the ballooning cases of famine in some districts.
Abdullah Abu Gayeth told reporters on Monday in the Saudi capital that the internationally recognised government, currently based in Aden, couldn’t send humanitarian aid to the hunger-ravaged areas in the province of Hodeida due to restrictions by Al Houthis who control the large province since late 2014.
The province of Hodeida that received 300,000 displaced people who fled their war-torn cities have turned into “a disaster area as a result of high level of insecurity and famine that is ravaging some of its district,” the governor said at the press conference.
Photos of hungry children and women that were blazed across international media have sparked outrage and prompted international humanitarian organisations to warn factions in Yemen to stop fighting in order to allow vital food and medicine to reach the districts affected.
On Monday, the UN humanitarian chief, Stephen O’Brien, warned that Yemen is “one step away from famine” as most the country’s population is in need of humanitarian help. The governor said that severally malnourished cases first surfaced in the districts of Al Luheia and Al Khoukha and then moved to northern parts of the province including Al Mighlaf and Al Mounerah, warning that famine would sweep the entire province if the government and international aid organisations did not step in now. “I have contacted those bodies who can offer help and alerted them about the gravity of the situation there. We have no other choice, but to declare the province a disaster area in the strict scientific and humanitarian sense of the word,” he said.
Despite generating 15 billion rials ($1 = YR300) to the rebel movement treasury, the province has been beset with hunger, the governor said. Al Houthis blamed the Saudi-led coalition for causing the famine by bombing Hodeida seaport and allegedly banning ships from docking at the city.
But local activists told Gulf News that the rebel forces have harassed some aid workers who crossed into the hungry areas to deliver aid. “They have recently seized a female doctor for hours as she tried to take aid to the areas.” an activist from Hodeida said on condition of anonymity because of security concerns. The governor said the province is in urgent need of 351,000 food baskets monthly and 100,000 meals daily in addition to children milk and drugs.