GENEVA – More than 21 million people – two out of three Yemeni children, women and men – need help and protection, said the UN chief.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke at a conference in Geneva – hosted by Switzerland and Sweden – where an appeal was made for US$4.3 billion to support the most vulnerable people in Yemen.
“We ended last year with a measure of hope for Yemen’s future,” Guterres said. “After years of death, displacement, destruction, starvation and suffering, the ceasefire paid real dividends for people.”
He said civilian flights were resuming from the Yemeni capital Sanaa and that essential supplies were arriving through the port of Hudaydah.
“However, the ceasefire ended after just six months,” the UN chief said, noting that Yemen’s economy is in dire straits and vital services are at risk of collapse.
“And humanitarian needs continue to soar while access is limited and funding is continually lacking,” Guterres added.
Separately, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said although 2022 witnessed some promising developments in Yemen, its conflict is entering its eighth year with no apparent long-term solution.
The ICRC said that despite a months-long ceasefire, Yemen remains in a precarious situation, with essential infrastructure in ruins and two-thirds of its people completely drained by a lack of access to basic needs.
Funding shortages risk “turbocharging” Yemen’s humanitarian woes from bad to worse, the Red Cross said.
“For the first time in 11 years, the operations of the International Red Cross and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in Yemen were underfunded last year,” said Robert Mardini, ICRC Director-General.
“This is a worrying development which, if not reversed, will undermine the progress of neutral and impartial humanitarian action,” Mardini added.
The Red Cross said 21.6 million people in Yemen need humanitarian assistance and protection.
It said many families are now selling remaining possessions to afford a meal.
Education has been disrupted for millions of children and 4 million people are still displaced.
The ICRC said the direct effects of climate change are tangible, as 2022 saw a prolonged drought followed by heavy flooding that further exhausted the remaining coping mechanisms.
“Every year that passes without a political solution makes it more difficult to recover from the conflict. Even if a lasting solution were reached, humanitarian needs would remain high for years,” Mardini said.
Yemen has been engulfed in violence and instability since 2014, when Iranian-allied Houthi rebels captured large parts of the country, including the capital Sanaa. (Anatolia)