Yemen had narrowly averted an official famine declaration in recent years after a surge in humanitarian funding. But now, the United Nations says that without another urgent intervention, such a designation will be unavoidable: at least 5 million people are on the brink of famine. The most affected area have been Hajjah province, in the Houthi controlled north of the country were the World Food Program has recorded a 25 percent increase in food prices this year.
This disaster is entirely man-made. There are no shortages, just financial obstacles to buying food. For about seven years, Houthi rebels have fought the internationally recognized government for control of the country. The government, backed by a Saudi-led military coalition, controls the country’s airspace and has imposed severe restrictions on the port of Hodeida on the Red Sea, a crucial gateway for imports for the country’s north, where the Iran-backed Houthis are in power.
The rebels blame restrictions on the port for the fuel crisis and have refused to discuss a truce until the airport in Houthi-controlled Sanaa is reopened and all restrictions on the port have been lifted.
The Houthis have instead pressed their military campaign to try to take control of Marib province, a strategic stronghold in the country’s north. If the Houthis were to seize control of the province, this would award the group near-total control of northern Yemen, access to key oil and gas infrastructure, and an upper hand in talks aimed at ending the conflict.
More than 1 million civilians fleeing fighting elsewhere have streamed into Marib province in recent years, and many could now be displaced again as the battle inches closer. Some, including children, have already been killed and wounded by missile attacks and shelling.
These images were takes for two separate stories for The Washington Post.
The text includes excerpts from the articles “Both his children were dying. Yemen’s crisis forced him to choose only one to save” and “Battle for the Badlands”.