Limited Aid Reaches Yemen, Blockade Still Taking a Toll

Aid Agencies Say Food Flow Still Insufficient

5,500 tonnes of flour sounds like a lot, but when it’s literally the only food that’s arrived in weeks to feed some 15 million people across northern Yemen, it doesn’t going nearly as far as you’d like.

The arrival of that single shipload of flour to Hodeidah has some hoping that there is at least a little easing of the Saudi blockade of Yemen, Hopes of more ships have yet to materialize, and needless to say, aid agencies say the flow of food is still far insufficient for the needs.

To put the single ship from Sunday in perspective, a World Food Program (WFP) ship is carrying 25,000 tons of wheat, due to arrive later this week, and UN officials say it would provide food for 1.8 million Yemenis for about a month.

But Hodeidah is literally the only port for the whole northern half of the country, and has to feed more than eight times that many people. That means the “month of food,” distributed among so many, is actually optimistically 3-4 days of food.

There is also hope some medical aid will reach northern Yemen by Tuesday, the first such shipment in a long time in a region where doctors have been warning for a month they’re out of pretty much everything.

Obviously any medicine is desperately needed, but it’s simply impossible to restock a whole nation’s medical stockpile with part of one ship. It’s not even totally clear at this point which medicines are the most immediately needed, as thousands who were reported out of things like insulin or cancer medicines weeks ago have doubtless long since died from the blockade.

It’s impossible to overstate how much damage the Saudi blockade has done, and will continue to do. Even with some partial easing, Yemen is still a long way from being in a secure situation for all necessary supplies.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.