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UN humanitarians say $4.3 billion is needed to halt ‘worsening’ Yemen crisis

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A woman baking bread at her shelter in Khanfar District, Yemen.

The UN’s Humanitarian Country Team in Yemen on Saturday, released its Response Plan (HRP) for this year, seeking nearly $4.3 billion to reverse a steady deterioration across the country, the grinding war there continues, despite a current pause in fighting.

The plan targets 17.3 million out of the staggering 23.4 million people in need of lifesaving humanitarian assistance and protection services across the war-ravaged Arab nation, as the first nationwide truce in six years, coinciding with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, continues to broadly hold.

The UN-led truce between the Saudi-led coalition forces supporting the internationally recognized Government, and Houthi rebels (formally known as Ansar Allah) who hold much of the country including the capital, Sa’ana, began on 2 April, and is due to continue through May.

‘Urgently address’ realities

“The worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen is a reality that we need to urgently address,” said David Gressly, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen.

“The numbers this year are staggering. Over 23 million people – or almost three-quarters of Yemen’s population – now need assistance. That is an increase of almost three million people from 2021. Nearly 13 million people are already facing acute levels of need.”

Escalating conflict last year, resulted in untold suffering and further disruption of public services, pushing humanitarian needs higher, said a press release issued by the UN humanitarian affairs office (OCHA) team in Yemen.

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A collapsing economy, another product of the seven-year war, has exacerbated vulnerabilities for the poorest, with a record 19 million people are projected to require food assistance in the second half of 2022.

There are an estimated 161,000 who face “the most extreme hunger”, says OCHA. “Children continue to suffer horribly”, with 2.2 million acutely malnourished, including more than half a million at severe levels. Limited access to critical services continues to worsen the conditions of the most vulnerable groups, including women and children.

‘Moment of hope’

“This is also a moment of hope for Yemen. The UN-led truce is a vital opportunity for aid agencies to scale up life-saving assistance and to reach more people in acute need quickly, including in areas where access was limited due to armed conflict and insecurity,” said Mr. Gressly. “For aid agencies to immediately step up efforts, we count on sufficient donor funding. Otherwise, the aid operation will collapse despite the positive momentum we are seeing in Yemen today.”

At a high-level fund-raising event for Yemen held in March this year, donors pledged $1.3 billion – just 30 per cent of the total requirement for the 2022 HRP.

Another $300 million has been pledged since then, said OCHA. However, the response remains severely underfunded, leaving aid agencies with limited resources at a time when two-thirds of major UN programmes in Yemen were forced to scale back or close due to underfunding. “I urge all donors to fund the appeal fully and commit to disbursing funds quickly,” said Mr. Gressly.

More than 4.3 million people have fled their homes since the current war erupted in 2015, making it the fourth largest internal displacement crisis on Earth.

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