“5 million Yemenis one step away from famine”

August 25, 2021 - 19:11

The United Nations has renewed the alarm over Yemen’s humanitarian crisis calling for the opening of Hodeidah port and Sana’a airport; currently under blockade by Saudi Arabia.

Speaking during a UN Security Council session, Khaled Mohamed Khiari, assistant Secretary-General for Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific, said “unfortunately, since the last Security Council session on Yemen there has been no further progress in the UN’s ongoing efforts to reach an agreement based on the four-point plan presented to the parties, which is comprised of a nationwide cease-fire, the re-opening of Sana’a airport, the easing of restrictions on the flow of fuel and other commodities through Hodeidah port, and the resumption of face-to-face political negotiations between the Yemeni parties”

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, said civilians, especially children, in Yemen bear the burden of war, which has caused an economic collapse.

The former UN special envoy to Yemen called for an increase in aid from donors to avert famine, adding that 5 million Yemenis are one step away from famine.

UNICEF Director, Henrietta Fore, also spoke at the UN Security Council meeting on Yemen. 

"The war in Yemen, now in its seventh year, has created the largest humanitarian crisis in the world – one made worse by the public health and socioeconomic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic

This year has seen growing displacement, with 1.6 million children now internally displaced.

The UNICEF Director delivered some shockingly grim facts and statistics. 

"Basic services like healthcare, sanitation, and education – all of which are vital for the humanitarian response – are incredibly fragile and on the brink of total collapse.

"Today in Yemen, almost 21 million people, including 11.3 million children, need humanitarian assistance to survive. 2.3 million children are acutely malnourished and nearly 400,000 children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition are at imminent risk of death. More than 10 million children and close to 5 million women cannot properly access health services.

"In Yemen, one child dies every 10 minutes from preventable causes, including malnutrition and vaccine-preventable diseases”.

"These are the numbers. But the numbers do not really tell us what it is like to be a child growing up today in Yemen.

"Being a child in Yemen means watching your parents struggle to provide enough food for your family to eat, without which you could starve. It means that if you are fortunate enough to have a school to go to, you could be killed by a bullet, an explosion or by stepping on a mine walking along the road to get there

"Being a child in Yemen means you have probably either experienced or witnessed horrific violence to which no child should ever be exposed. It means that if you do survive the war, you might carry the physical and emotional scars with you for the rest of your life, undermining your development and happiness as an adult.

"Being a child in Yemen is the stuff of nightmares. 

"Yemen imports nearly everything, including humanitarian supplies. We must reopen the port of Hudaydah to commercial imports and fuel. Millions of more people could be plunged into famine if vital imports remain restricted.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia waged a war on Yemen with the aim of reinstating the former government there. Almost daily bombardments coupled with an all-out blockade has led to the world's worst humanitarian crisis.