11/30/2017, 20.22
YEMEN – SAUDI ARABIA
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As Yemen’s water situation becomes critical, Red Cross to buy fuel to pump water

The ICRC has bought 750,000 litres of diesel fuel to run pumps. On the long run, this decision is "exceptional and unsustainable" to solve the emergency situation. An appeal is made to Riyadh to lift the blockade that prevents aid from entering the country, which imports 90 per cent of the goods it needs.

Sana'a (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is buying 750,000 litres of diesel fuel to provide clean water to a million people in need in Yemen.

In the past month, nine cities in the Arab country have run out of drinking water due to Saudi Arabia’s blockade, which has left it without fuel for pumping water and sanitation.

The ICRC's fuel purchase will allow the water systems in two cities, Hudaydah and Taiz, to operate for a month. But the agency described the move as "exceptional and unsustainable".

Remaining fuel stocks, some available only on the black market, have rocketed in price leaving local water boards unable to afford them.

A few days ago, for the first since the Saudi blockade was imposed at the start of the month, a United Nations ship was allowed to deliver food and basic necessities to a Houthi-controlled area in the war-torn country.

In January 2015 civil war broke out in Yemen, pitting the mostly Sunni government of former President Hadi, backed by Riyadh, against Shia Houthi rebels, who are close to Tehran and Hezbollah.

In March of the same year, a Saudi-led coalition began carrying out air strikes against the rebels, which the UN criticised for causing civilian casualties, including children.

According to UN sources, some 9,000 people have died so far in the war, 60 per cent civilians, with 45,000 injured. Out of a population of 28 million, up to 20 million people need humanitarian aid.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the apostolic vicar warned that the country was moving towards a huge disaster. The ICRC and other humanitarian groups too have raised the alarm, stressing that they alone cannot meet the needs of the population.

This has led to more appeals to Riyadh and its allies, to allow for the immediate entry of food and fuel. The country imports over 90 per cent of what it needs and has been in a food emergency situation for a long time.

According to the Red Cross, more than 2.5 million people currently do not have access to drinking water; hence the exceptional decision to buy fuel for the cities of Hudaydah – where untreated sewage has been flooding the streets regularly – and Taiz, to cope with a desperate situation. At the same time, the humanitarian agency wants fuel imports to resume.

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