The United Nations is losing the battle against the famine in Yemen. This was stated by Deputy Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.
“The situation looks very bleak. We are losing our battle against the famine and the situation has worsened in an alarming way in the last few weeks,” said the Deputy Secretary General.
Two days ago, the NGO Save the Children had warned that more than five million children in the country are risking starvation.
“We risk a ‘point of no return’ to reach, after which it becomes impossible to avoid numerous deaths by a general famine,” said Lowcock.
According to the UN, Yemen knows as the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world”. “More than 22 million people need help in Yemen, of whom 18 million live with food insecurity,” he says. Eight million of them do not know when they will be able to eat a meal next time. “They need emergency humanitarian aid to survive,” says Lowcock.
He calls on the UN Security Council to support the organization of political negotiations, as well as taking immediate measures to stabilize the economy. The Security Council must also pressure the various parties to give the most vulnerable people access to humanitarian aid. Finally, an air bridge must be set up to evacuate people who need medical assistance.
A severely malnourished child is weighed in a hospital in the northwestern province of Hajjah on 19 September 2018. 5.2 million children are at risk of starvation according to the NGO Save the Children.
Government versus Houthi rebels
Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world and has been torn for years by the conflict between the government and the Shiite Houthi rebels. The conflict worsened when Saudi Arabia and other Sunni allies started an air operation in 2015 to stop the Shi’ite group’s advance towards Aden, the temporary seat of the government. According to the UN, the violence killed 10,000 people, and more than 56,000 people were injured. The country is also hit by a cholera epidemic.
On Monday, the pro-government forces launched a new offensive against the strategic port city of Hodeida. The port is one of the major access roads to the country for international aid convoys, and the offensive therefore endangers access to humanitarian aid. According to experts, the offensive already has an economic impact on citizens.