Last week, an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched a bombing campaign on Yemen and blockaded its ports in a desperate attempt to stop the advance of Houthi rebels who have seized swaths of the country.
So far, there's little sign that the Saudi airstrikes are making the disastrous situation on the ground any better. This tweet from Jeb Boone, a journalist who covers Yemen closely, sums up the situation:
To catch up, Houthis are still advancing in spite of airstrikes while a country that imports 90% of its food is under blockade #Yemen— Jeb Boone (@JebBoone) April 1, 2015
Both of those things are true. Mohammed Mukhashaf of Reuters reports that on Wednesday, the rebels moved into the center of Aden, a city on the country's southern tip. The south is the nominal stronghold of forces loyal to President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, with Aden specifically serving as capital-in-exile. So much for the airstrikes bolstering Hadi, who has fled to Saudi Arabia and is running what's left of his "government" from there.
It's also true, as another Reuters piece explains, that Yemen imports 90 percent of its food. It's not clear how the blockade will affect food stocks, but the New York Times reports that it's already blocking badly needed medical aid for those hurt by the conflict. Hospitals are "running critically low on medical supplies," the Times's Kareem Fahim and Nick Cumming-Bruce write.
Even without the blockade, Yemen's food situation is precarious. "Although government sources reported sufficient stocks to last the country about six months, the conflict will likely negatively impact distribution, market availability and prices of foodstuffs sooner than earlier expected," Salah ElHajj Hassan, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization representative for Yemen, told Reuters on Wednesday.
So far, the Saudi-led offensive is apparently failing to push back the rebels. And it's threatening to help cause a humanitarian crisis in the process.