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For more than four years Yemeni government forces and Houthi rebels have been at war, and now over half the population is facing starvation.

The pro-government Saudi-led coalition of Arab nations, with backing from the United States, imposed restrictions on imports of food, medicine and fuel in a bid to weaken the rebels, but it is the civilians who have been hardest hit in what the United Nations has described as the world's worst man-made humanitarian disaster.

The markets may have food, but prices have soared and the poor who could once get by with little money are now starving. In the worst-hit areas, mainly in rebel-held territory in northern Yemen where coalition restrictions are toughest, thousands of children are dying from malnutrition and related illnesses. In remote villages, families cannot afford medical care or even transportation to clinics. The poverty is so great that some families have had to decide which child to feed.

Much of the fighting has been centered on the city of Hodeidah, in particular since the coalition launched the offensive to retake the city from the rebels in the summer of 2018. The port of Hodeidah is the main entry point for food and humanitarian supplies for the northern part of the country controlled by Houthi forces and where most of the population lives. Taking this important city on the western coast could have changed the course of the war for the coalition, but instead it amplified an already dramatic humanitarian crisis and blocked humanitarian aid.

Lorenzo Tugnoli

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