‘Death Sentence’ For 8 Million Yemenis

Eight million Yemenis are likely to lose all humanitarian aid in March unless urgent funds are delivered, United Nations officials have warned. The situation is aggravated because there is an ongoing escalation of this war.

UN special envoy Hans Grundberg and UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths have told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that January has seen nearly two-thirds of major UN aid programs being scaled back or closed.

Grundberg stated that a coalition air raid on a detention facility in Houthi-controlled Saada last month “was the worst civilian casualty incident in three years”, as there is an “alarming” increase in air raids in Yemen. 650 civilians have been killed or injured by air raids, shelling, small arms fire, and other violence only in January.

There have also been some attacks by the Houthis on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This indicates “how this conflict risks spiraling out of control unless serious efforts are urgently made by the Yemeni parties, the region, and the international community to end the conflict”, Grundberg voiced.

In the same line, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said the war in Yemen shows no sign of abating, but rather there is a “sharp and dangerous” escalation over the past six weeks. Cross-border attacks have intensified, killing, injuring, and threatening civilians in the broader region.

If the funding gaps are not promptly addressed “it will be a death sentence for people whose coping mechanisms have been completely exhausted,” he warned.

The Yemeni war has been going on since 2014 between the internationally recognized government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi backed by a Saudi-led military coalition and the Iran-allied Houthis. The war started when the rebels seized the capital, Sanaa.

The conflict has killed around 130,000 people and caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as the UN classifies it. According to UNICEF, 21 million people need humanitarian assistance, including more than 11 million children.

Back in January, Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ramesh Rajasingham already warned that “the biggest constraint right now is funding, last year’s response plan was 58% funded, making it the lowest funded appeal for Yemen since 2015.”

According to the UN humanitarian office, the 2021 humanitarian plan for Yemen received $2.27bn of its $3.85bn requirements.

In December, the World Food Programme announced cuts in food assistance for 8 million people due to funding shortages. Griffiths has repeated that “aid agencies are quickly running out of money, forcing them to slash life-saving programmes”.

Funding shortages could also deprive 3.6 million people of safe drinking water and end programmes to combat gender-based violence and promote reproductive health. Meanwhile, the UN may have to cancel most humanitarian flights in Yemen next month.

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