Aid groups say Saudi Arabia is carrying out an “open-air massacre” of Yemeni civilians facing famine amid Riyadh’s two-year-long military campaign against the impoverished country.
“The bombs that rain down every day in Yemen show an absolute disdain for civilian life,” Jean-Pierre Delomier of Handicap International said in a joint statement with five other humanitarian aid groups on Wednesday.
“Every day our teams, when they manage to reach people, see the physical and psychological distress of the traumatized civilians,” he said, adding, “This open-air massacre is intolerable and unworthy of our era.”
The humanitarian aid groups said about 19 million Yemenis, or 60 percent of the country’s population, are suffering food insecurity. Of those, they said, three million women and children are grappling with severe malnutrition.
The war-hit Arab state is “one of the countries… where humanitarian groups have the most difficulties,” said Helene Queau, the operations chief of Premiere Urgence Internationale, at a Paris press conference, adding that the Saudi air raids have “partially or totally destroyed” transport infrastructure and “complicated” access to ports and airports.
She went on to say that the presence of the al-Qaeda terrorist group in Yemen has posed a major security threat for the Arab country.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has strengthened its foothold in Yemen in the wake of the Saudi military campaign against its impoverished neighboring country.
Saudi Arabia has also imposed a sea and land blockade on Yemen to prevent aid supplies from reaching civilians across the country.
“We call on the international community and the belligerents to step up efforts to improve access,” Queau said.
The joint statement also condemned the Riyadh regime for the indiscriminate targeting of civilians using internationally-banned cluster bombs in the deadly military aggression on Yemen.
The NGOs, including Doctors of the World and Solidarites International, said in their statement that Yemen’s health infrastructure faces imminent collapse.
It said that since October last year, about 20,000 had contracted cholera and that about 100 of them had died due to the disease.
According to the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, the Saudi military campaign has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 Yemenis and left 40,000 others wounded.
Local Yemeni sources have already put the death toll from the Saudi war at over 12,000, including many women and children.