May 6, 2015 / 6:14 AM / in 3 years

Aid agencies warn fuel shortages may end their work in Yemen

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Twenty-two aid agencies working in Yemen have warned that their help could end unless land, sea and air routes are opened to allow for the import of fuel into the country, where an Arab coalition has been attacking Houthi forces since March 26.

A boy pushes a wheel cart with two children and a jerrycan as they head to collect water from a tap at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in al-Mazraq in the northwestern Yemeni province of Hajja May 20, 2013. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

The conflict has disrupted imports in the impoverished country where around 20 million people, or 80 percent of the population, are now estimated to be going hungry, or “food insecure” in aid parlance, according to a statement by the United Nations and the Yemen International NGO Forum.

A shortage of fuel has crippled hospitals and food supplies in the past few weeks, and the World Food Programme has said its monthly fuel needs had leapt from 40,000 liters a month to 1 million liters.

“Millions of lives are at risk, in particular children, and soon we will not be able to respond,” Edward Santiago, country director for Save the Children, said in the statement.

The statement also said an announcement by the Saudi-led Arab alliance that is conducting air strikes against Houthi fighters in Yemen about a possible truce in some areas to allow for humanitarian supplies was not enough.

“The recent announcement of a potential humanitarian pause to military operations will not alleviate the humanitarian impacts of the current conflict,” the statement said calling for a permanent end to hostilities.

The United Nations said on Tuesday the conflict in Yemen had killed at least 646 civilians since coalition air strikes began on March 26, including 131 children and that more than 1,364 civilians had been wounded.

Houthi fighters have seized control of large parts of Yemen. The coalition, including nine Arab states provided with logistical support by the United States, France and Britain, seeks to restore the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, now in exile in Riyadh.

Reporting By Maha El Dahan, Editing by William Maclean and Nick Macfie

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