An internally displaced woman and her daughter look over the city of Sana'a, Yemen, from the roof of this dilapidated building they call their new home. Photo: Giles Clarke/UN OCHA

The Crisis in Yemen Takes a Turn for the Worse

Yemen is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and it appears that the situation is poised to deteriorate even further.  At issue is a decision by Saudi Arabia to impose a blockade on the country–a move that was announced amid a significant shakeup in Saudi politics.

This blockade could have a profoundly devastating impact on the situation in Yemen, where nearly the entire population is affected by an ongoing conflict that is pitting an Iran-backed rebel group against the Saudi-backed government. The rebel group controls much of northern part of the country, including the capitol Sana’a and the largest port, Hodeidah. Saudi Arabia (with American backing) controls all sea and air lanes around the country.

Yemen is already the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with 7 million facing starvation and over 900,000 sickened with cholera.  If access to Yemen remained shut down, warns head of the World Food Program David Beasley, “I can’t imagine this will not be one of the most devastating humanitarian catastrophes we’ve seen in decades.”

On the line with me to discuss this all is Scott Paul of Oxfam America. Scott, who has spent time in Yemen and lobbies the US government on behalf of humanitarian access in Yemen, explains the situation on the ground right now–and as you’ll see there is a great lack of clarity about this apparent blockade.  We also discuss more broadly the political environment in the Yemen and the broader middle east that giving rise to the ongoing catastrophe in Yemen.

If you have 2o minutes and want to learn about the conflict in Yemen, its causes, and possibly solutions out of this mess then have a listen.

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