‘Few months left before they starve’: Oxfam adviser tells RT famine is ‘the real enemy’ in Yemen
There are currently 7 million people "on the brink of famine" in Yemen, with the alarming situation being the result "of the fighting and of the bombing," the international humanitarian organization Oxfam's adviser in the Middle East, Richard Stanforth, said in an interview with RT this week.
There are just "a few months" left before mass starvation, Stanforth said, appealing to the international community to "wake up to the crisis" and act promptly, addressing both the urgently needed ceasefire and the plight of the population.
"We actually spoke to 2,000 people just before Christmas and nine out of 10 of them said that they've no longer got any food. There were some horrible stories. One person said he was going to try and sell his kidney as he hadn't got any money for food. When you leave your home, when you flee, you've got nothing left basically. There's no more job, you leave your farms. It's a horrible situation," Stanforth said. "I speak to colleagues on a daily basis, and even they are struggling to get by."
"The Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Yemen for two years now, and we've seen 50,000 casualties, several thousand deaths including many, many children. That's forced over 3 million people to leave their homes," Stanforth said.
Describing the dire situation in the war-ravaged country, the Oxfam adviser added that "in addition" to the coalition airstrikes, "there are fighters on the ground who have killed many people, and also stopped aid agencies like [Oxfam] from delivering aid," including some cases when aid workers have been detained.
"Some of the international backers of the Saudi-led coalition have been blockading the country, they've been stopping food and other supplies from getting into Yemen's ports," he added.
"Everybody involved [in the Yemen conflict] is at fault, all parties. Yemenis themselves are at fault, as they are thinking more about the fighting and their military gains, and their attacks on ports and other places are stopping aid. And then all the international backers, they are at fault as well. They are not allowing aid through like it should come, and they are also bombing the country, they are starving Yemen," Stanforth said, adding that the situation is "heartbreaking."
"It's startling that we've got so little funding when the crisis is the world's largest," Stanforth said, criticizing the international community for the "lack of urgency" in regard to the situation in Yemen.
Over $2 billion are needed "right now" for aid efforts in the war-torn country, the Oxfam adviser said, adding that governments around the world have only given 7 percent of the aid that's needed.
Having praised Russia's and France's recent efforts in the UN Security Council for "coming out and pressing for an immediate ceasefire," the Oxfam adviser at the same time criticized some of the western countries' policy in regard to the crisis in Yemen.
"It's really urgent that a solution is found, that peace is found, that governments stop selling weapons, they have to stop selling weapons to the different parties in the conflict. The US, the UK for example – the UK has given over $3.3 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia, and that's being used to bomb Yemen and many people have died as a result," Stanforth said.
What is making the situation even worse is that there is a lack of awareness of the Yemeni crisis internationally.
"There is a problem because journalists are being refused entry to Yemen, and that means you don't get stories in the news like we should have... We need journalists to be allowed in, just like aid workers need to be allowed in. We need to be able to take photos, so people can just see how awful the situation is," the Oxfam adviser told RT.