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ICRC buys fuel to supply Yemen with clean water

By
Ray Downs
Yemenis collect drinking water from a donated water pipe in Sanaa, Yemen, on November 18. On Wednesday, the Red Cross announced it will buy fuel to provide clean water to Yemenis affected by the Saudi-enforced blockade. Photo by Yahya Arhab/EPA-EFE
Yemenis collect drinking water from a donated water pipe in Sanaa, Yemen, on November 18. On Wednesday, the Red Cross announced it will buy fuel to provide clean water to Yemenis affected by the Saudi-enforced blockade. Photo by Yahya Arhab/EPA-EFE

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross said Wednesday it is buying 750,000 liters of diesel fuel to provide clean water to cities in Yemen affected by a blockade enforced by a Saudi-led coalition.

Robert Mardini, the regional director for the ICRC, called the move an "exceptional stop-gap measure."

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"We're buying and supplying 750,000 litres of fuel so as to provide clean water to 1 million people in Hodeidah & Taiz for one month," he tweeted. "ICRC not supposed to do this."

Some fuel stocks in the area are only available on the black market and their prices have soared, the BBC reported. The lack of fuel has created vast shortages of other essential needs, such as food, water and medicine.

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"Nothing is getting into Yemen. And time is running out," the ICRC tweeted on Nov. 18.

The Saudi-led coalition, which includes several Arab states and receives military and logistical support from the United States, has been fighting the Houthi rebels since 2015. During that time, essential supplies, which were already scarce in the world's poorest country that relies on imports for 90 percent of its needs, became hard to find. And a blockade enforced three weeks ago has worsened the situation.

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On Saturday, aid workers arrived in Yemen for the first time since the beginning of the blockade.

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"The needs are huge and there is much more to do for #YemenChildren," UNICEF tweeted.

Nawal Mazahem, an English teacher, told the BBC earlier this month the blockade has been a "siege on people's livelihoods."

"The suffering has been going on for a long time, and now it's worse," she said.

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