By Reuters 2015-10-12 16:00:36
Yemen only received one percent of its monthly commercial fuel needs during September and Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh asked the UN to assist the nation and allow deliveries.
Yemen relies on the import of fuel, but there has been a near-total blockade led by Saudi Arabia, which has slowed shipments to a trickle. An Arab coalition is inspecting shipments in an effort to thwart arms deliveries to Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
The Houthis and its allies – forces loyal to former Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was overthrown in 2011 – seized the capital city of Sanaa about a year ago.
“In a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 6 October, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi pledged to allow the import of fuel through all ports,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters on Monday. “Despite this pledge, no commercial fuel has yet been imported, and 11 commercial ships remain anchored off-shore.”
He said the ships were waiting to berth at Al Hudaydah port.
Fuel shortages have spread disease and suffering in arid Yemen, where access to water usually depends on fuel-powered pumps, the U.N. says. Hospitals struggle to operate without fuel and aid cannot be delivered.
The United Nations has designated Yemen as one of its highest-level humanitarian crises, alongside emergencies in South Sudan, Syria and Iraq. It says more than 21 million people in Yemen need help, or about 80 percent of the population.
“Only 1 percent of the monthly requirements for commercial fuel for Yemen were imported through Red Sea ports during September, down from a low 12 percent in August,” Haq said.
During Hadi’s speech to the annual United Nations General Assembly last month, he blamed the Houthis for the blockade and the humanitarian crisis.
Yemen relies on imports for 90 percent of its food, and Haq said commercial food prices had soared about 45 percent.
The United States told U.N. chief Ban that Saudi King Salman had pledged to allow “unfettered access” to all humanitarian aid, including fuel, during a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama last month.
The United Nations and international rights groups are alarmed at the increasing number of civilians being killed in Yemen, at least 2,355 out of more than 4,500 dead in the past six months.