UN: Don’t forget the 19 million hungry Yemenis

UN – The UN’s humanitarian chief on Tuesday urged a world focused on Russia’s war in Ukraine not to forget the conflict in Yemen, where “one of the world’s gravest global humanitarian disasters has occurred”. has caused 19 million people to face famine this year, of which 160,000 are likely to face a “famine-like situation.”

Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council that Yemen has become what humanitarian officials call a “chronic emergency” that often leads to inertia and donor fatigue. This, he said, would not happen in the world’s poorest Arab country, which has the highest proportion of the population in need – three out of every four Yemenis, or 23.4 million. .

Griffiths, undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, was speaking before Wednesday’s high-level virtual engagement conference on Yemen led by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde chaired. It is seeking nearly US$4.3 billion to help more than 17 million people across Yemen this year.

Griffiths says the event is “not just about the money, although it’s hugely important”. “This is also an opportunity for the international community to show that we are not giving up on Yemen, even after all these years and with new crises emerging. And that is a very important message.”

Griffiths said aid agencies face “an alarming and unprecedented funding shortage” that has forced two-thirds of major UN programs to downsize or close in recent months. here for lack of money. This includes “deep cuts to core services such as food aid, water, medical vehicles and relief for those fleeing violence,” he said.

Yemen has been plagued by civil war since 2014, when Iran-backed Houthi rebels took control of the capital and much of the north of the country, forcing the government to flee south, then to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015, with the backing of the United States and the United Arab Emirates, to try to restore power to President Abed Rabbo Mansour. Hadi and his internationally recognized government.

Despite a relentless campaign and ground fighting, the war has largely come to a stalemate, triggering a humanitarian crisis. Since then, the US has suspended direct involvement in the conflict.

Hostilities persisted along nearly 50 fronts, including in the energy-rich central city of Marib, where the Houthis’ two-year offensive continues, and in western Hajjah, Griffiths said. “where clashes have escalated sharply in recent weeks.”

Last year, he said, more than 2,500 civilians were killed or injured in wars that displaced nearly 300,000 people. That, he said, has displaced 4.3 million people in Yemen since 2015.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council that “the United States is planning to make a significant contribution” at Wednesday’s pledge conference, “but will need all donors to work together to meet meet the dire need of Yemen.”

“We must address Yemen’s humanitarian crisis now,” she said. “Otherwise, the path to peace will narrow.”

Hans Grundberg, the UN special envoy for Yemen, told the council that since 2015 donors have spent “an exceptional, extraordinary and generous sum” of nearly $14 billion on UN calls to alleviate the suffering of the people of Yemen. He said more than 75% of that money came from six donors: the US, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, Germany and the European Commission.

Mr. Grundberg said the continuing fighting has deepened Yemen’s economic crisis and it has the potential to get worse. He pointed out that the value of the Yemeni riyal against the dollar has fallen by 20% since January in the main southern city of Aden and has risen in price in a country that depends on commercial imports for about 90% of wages. real and nearly all fuel.

Yemen already faces fuel shortages, and the price hike is “likely to become more acute as global energy prices continue to rise … because of events that have nothing to do with Yemen”. A clear example of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions on Russia, a major producer of oil and natural gas, he said.

Grundberg said he is continuing to meet with leaders from Yemen’s political parties, experts and civil society representatives to determine short- and long-term priorities for a multi-dimensional process, hopes to lead to negotiations among Yemenis about finding an end to the war. .

Thomas-Greenfield, Ambassador to the United States, called on all parties to participate in the United Nations consultations. This required the Houthis to allow Grundberg to visit Sanaa “without preconditions,” a visit that she said was “long overdue.”

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