OMCT: Naval blockade contributes to the starvation of Yemenis
Coalition member states, most notably Saudi Arabia and the UAE, could be held liable, resulting in international criminal liability for their agents, as per the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT).
The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) said, in a report obtained by Al Mayadeen, that The naval blockade imposed on Yemen by a Saudi-led coalition has significantly contributed to the starvation of Yemeni civilians and can be considered torture.
Legal Director at OMCT’s Middle East and North Africa office Helene Legeay said, “The tens of thousands of civilians who die due to malnutrition, waterborne diseases, and the lack of access to healthcare are no collateral damage of the conflict”.
They are the direct victims of a combination of war crimes committed by the various sides, in which the naval blockade imposed by the Saudi-led Coalition plays a major role. The blockade threatens to plunge the country into famine and violates international norms, including the United Nations Convention against Torture,” she added.
The organization highlighted that the United Nations recorded 131,000 deaths due to a lack of food, health services, and clean water in December 2020, adding that the World Food Program estimated in July this year that nearly one Yemeni out of every three - 19 million people - were food insecure, with 3.5 million acutely malnourished.
The report, titled Torture in Slow Motion, demonstrates that the strict controls imposed on maritime imports to north of Yemen, which houses 70% of the country's 30 million people, play a critical role in this devastation.
The report went on to say that Yemen imports 90% of its requirements, including food, fuel, and medicines.
Control of commercial and humanitarian cargo ships by the Coalition, ostensibly to enforce an UN-mandated arms embargo against Yemenis, has resulted in significant delays in deliveries, leading to price spikes that have brought an already fragile economy to its knees, it added.
The report stressed that coalition member states, most notably Saudi Arabia and the UAE, could be held liable, resulting in international criminal liability for their agents.
The report added that the same is true for their accomplices, states, and private companies that supply arms and thus play an important role in exacerbating the situation.
It is worth noting that the report calls for the blockade to be lifted, international investigation of these crimes, prosecution of perpetrators, and collective reparations to the Yemeni people.
The International Organization for Migration has lately warned that over 25.5 million Yemenis are living in poverty as a result of the Saudi-led aggression, which entered its 8th year.
The war on Yemen and the Saudi-led coalition's blockade of the poverty-stricken country is the main driving force behind the hunger crisis - the situation is likely to worsen with the most recent war in Ukraine, which is the source of 30% of Yemen's wheat imports.