Farms in Yemen have been hit at least 918 times by airstrikes and artillery shelling in less than three years. Since January 2018, the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project has recorded 348 airstrikes on farms in Yemen, and 570 cases of shelling affecting farms.
The report was released Thursday by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). The organization interviewed Yemeni civilians on the ground who lived through these attacks. Several farmers shared accounts with the NRC about fleeing their lands because airstrikes destroyed their farms or ground fighting reached the area.
“The violence that has engulfed more than 900 farms is part of a larger pattern where the senseless war is shattering Yemen’s ability to feed itself. Fishing boats have been sunk, markets decimated, and flour mills destroyed. This cuts off lifelines for millions,” Jan Egeland, the NRC secretary-general, said.
The report does not attribute blame for the strikes. While the Houthis could be responsible for some of the shelling, only one side has real airpower and has a history of targeting civilian infrastructure: the US-backed Saudi-led coalition.
Since the coalition intervened in Yemen to reinstate President Hadi in 2015, it has waged a brutal air campaign. Airstrikes have hit farms, fishing boats, market places, hospitals, schools, and water treatment facilities. On top of the bombing campaign, there is also a blockade on the country with strict import controls.
These siege tactics have caused severe food shortages, with more than half of the population reliant on aid. The targeting of sewage and water infrastructure has also caused the largest cholera outbreak in modern history. The country is also struggling to contain coronavirus since the population lacks access to clean water and basic healthcare.
With so much of the population reliant on aid, the cutbacks caused by the economic ramifications of coronavirus and worldwide shutdowns could lead to a devastating famine. The UN had to substantially cut healthcare aid and food distribution in Yemen this year and is pleading with the world to give more money.
The UN says if they cannot raise enough funds, a famine will hit. While the UN has not officially declared a famine in Yemen, they do call the situation the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and people have been starving to death in the country for years. In 2018, Save the Children published a report that said as many as 85,000 children under the age of five died of starvation in Yemen between April 2015 and October 2018.