UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director provided new details of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen after their visit to the country.
Addressing the UN Security Council on Friday, David Beasley of WFP, who had just returned from a three-day visit to Yemen, said that he had witnessed a country on the brink of catastrophe. “What I have seen in Yemen this week is the stuff of nightmares, of horror, of deprivation, of misery. And we — all of humanity — have only ourselves to blame.”
Describing what he saw at a hospital in the Yemeni capital Sana’a, Beasley said that there were dozens of severely sick and malnourished children, with around 50 cases arriving every day. “They only have room for 20. The rest? They go home to die.”
The price of simple basic food staples in Yemen has doubled in the last eight months, said Beasley, even as household livelihoods are shrinking. “For a country that’s dependent on imports for the basic needs of life, this is disaster”.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock revealed that despite calls for the violence to stop, UN sources have observed nearly 800 separate incidents of shelling, armed clashes, or air strikes across Yemen; often with devastating consequences for civilians and, due to the fighting, humanitarian programmes had been scaled back in the port of Hodeida, a crucial gateway for aid efforts.
He also said that Saudi Arabia had helped to stabilise the Yemeni rial, depositing $200 million with the Central Bank of Yemen, which helped to finance imports of food and other essential commodities, but more funds for humanitarian assistance will be needed, given the growing challenges faced by Yemen.
The UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths at the Security Council meeting also announced that the Yemeni government and rival Ansar Allah Houthi militants were committed to working on a political solution and he had received assurances from both sides of a renewed commitment to attend talks.
Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018