How the Saudi Blockade Threatens Famine in Yemen

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Averting famine will require Saudi Arabia to permit the resumption of commercial shipping of food and fuel to the besieged country.

Interview by Zachary Laub
Scott Paul, Interviewee

Yemen is on course for a famine whose death toll could reach the millions, says Oxfam America’s Scott Paul, an expert on humanitarian policy. The country relies on imports for its fuel, food, and medicine, but shipments slowed to a trickle after Saudi Arabia began policing Yemeni ports in 2015 as part of a campaign to push Houthi rebels and their allies loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of Sana’a. After intercepting a missile fired at Riyadh from Yemen in early November, Saudi Arabia ratcheted up its blockade, sealing off rebel-held ports. Though it has since permitted some humanitarian aid, only a resumption of commercial shipments can avert famine, Paul says.

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