Comments by David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), were unusually forthright for such a high-ranking UN official in criticizing one party in a conflict, as Beasley accused the Saudi-led coalition of hampering the provision of aid to Yemen.
“Saudi Arabia should fund 100 percent [of the needs] of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen,” Beasley told Reuters news agency. “Either stop the war, or fund the crisis. Option three is, do both of them.”
Since fighting began in March 2015, more than 10,000 people have been killed, and millions have been driven from their homes. The country is also facing a health crisis, with more than 2,000 people having died from cholera since April, more than half a million people infected, and another 600,000 expected to contract the infection this year.
Aid groups have also accused Saudi Arabia of blocking needed assistance and goods from areas that are most in need. The UN has accused Saudi Arabia of restricting entry to vessels bound for the key Red Sea port of Hodeidah through which around 80 percent of Yemen’s food imports once arrived.
“The Saudis have created serious complications for us because of the port being blockaded to a certain degree, and the destroying of the cranes at Hodeidah port … That has substantially reduced our capacity to bring food in,” the WFP‘s Beasley said. He added that coalition restrictions had also obstructed the delivery of fuel needed by UN vehicles which travel in and out of Sanaa carrying aid and personnel.
The kingdom has said that hundreds of millions of dollars it pledged to humanitarian programs have benefited civilians on both sides of Yemen’s conflict.