April 30, 2017 0114 GMT
More worrying, the conflict in Yemen and its economic consequences are driving the largest food security emergency in the world, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported, Ipsnews wrote.
According to OCHA, over 17 million people are currently ‘food insecure’, of whom 6.8 million are ‘severely food insecure’ and require immediate food assistance, and two million acutely malnourished children. The Yemeni population amounts to 27.4 million inhabitants.
“We can avert a humanitarian catastrophe, but need $2.1 billion in funding to deliver crucial food, nutrition, health and other lifesaving assistance,” the UN estimated.
The world organization plans to hold a high-level pledging meeting for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Co-hosted by the governments of Switzerland and Sweden, the conference will take place at UN in Geneva on April 25, 2017.
“The time is now to come together to prevent an ‘impending humanitarian catastrophe’ in Yemen, the organizers warned.
OCHA has also reminded that even before the current conflict escalated in mid-March 2015, Yemen had faced ‘enormous levels’ of humanitarian needs stemming from years of ‘poverty, under-development, environmental decline, intermittent conflict, and weak rule of law’.
Meantime, it has stressed the need to protect civilians. “The conduct of hostilities has been brutal. As of December 31, 2016, health facilities had reported nearly 48,000 casualties (including nearly 7,500 deaths) as a result of the conflict.”
These figures significantly under-count the true extent of casualties given diminished reporting capacity of health facilities and people’s difficulties accessing healthcare.
OCHA stressed the impact of this crisis in which “all parties appear to have committed violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”
On-going air strikes and fighting continue to inflict heavy casualties, damage public and private infrastructure, and impede delivery of humanitarian assistance, it explains, adding that parties to the conflict and their supporters have created a vast protection crisis in which millions of people face tremendous threats to their safety and well-being, and the most vulnerable struggle to survive.
According to the UN humanitarian body, since March 2015, more than three million people have been displaced within Yemen. Roughly 73 percent are living with host families or in rented accommodation, and 20 percent in collective centers or spontaneous settlements. A substantial numbers of returnees live in damaged houses, unable to afford repairs and face serious protection risks.
The Yemeni economy is being destroyed, OCHA informed. Preliminary results of the Disaster Needs Assessment estimated $19 billion in infrastructure damage and other losses — equivalent to about half of gross domestic product in 2013.
“Parties to the conflict have targeted key economic infrastructure. Mainly air strikes — but also shelling and other attacks — have damaged or destroyed ports, roads, bridges, factories and markets. They have also imposed restrictions that disrupt the flow of private sector goods and humanitarian aid, including food and medicine.”
For months, nearly all-basic commodities have been only sporadically available in most locations, and basic commodity prices in December 2016 were on average 22 percent higher than before the crisis, reports OCHA.
An estimated eight million Yemenis have lost their livelihoods or are living in communities with minimal to no basic services, the UN informed, adding that about two million school-age children are out of school and damage, hosting IDPs, or occupation by armed groups.
Yemen is an Arab country situated in the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is the second-largest country in the peninsula, with nearly occupying 528,000 km2, and its coastline stretches for about 2,000kms.