STORY: Yemen humanitarian crisis ahead of Hi-Level Pledging Event on 16 March
TRT: 3 mins 23s
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: EMBARGO UNTIL WEDNESDAY 16 MARCH – 0600AM CET
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 15 March 2022
VIRTUAL PRESS BRIEFING
B-Roll from WFP, shot between 17 and 24 February 2022 in Yemen:
US$4.3 billion needed to help over 17 million people across Yemen – OCHA
Donors convene this Wednesday to pledge support for humanitarian response in war-torn Yemen
Ukraine adds to Yemen’s woes as hunger emergency spreads
After more than seven years of war, over 23 million Yemenis face hunger, disease, and other life-threatening risks as the country’s basic services and economy are collapsing, according to the UN Office for Humanitarian Coordination (OCHA). The number of vulnerable people has risen by 13 per cent since last year, and some 161,000 people are likely to experience famine over the second half of this year, a fivefold increase from the current figure. Addressing journalists from New-York, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths underlined that “almost three quarters of the population will depend on humanitarian assistance and protection in 2022”, which makes Yemen's humanitarian condition among the worst in the world.
Nearly US$4.3 billion is required in 2022 to reach 17.2 million people and reverse the downward spiral according to the humanitarian agency. The civil war in Yemen is the main driver of hunger and the crisis is likely to deteriorate due to the conflict in Ukraine. 90% of Yemen’s food is imported, with one third of its wheat imports coming from Russia and Ukraine. “Ending the war in Ukraine now, is of greatest importance” insisted Mr Griffiths, “because as it goes on, it has secondary and tertiary impacts upon the new harvest, the new planting season and so forth. Ukraine is a breadbasket.” “We already see food prices skyrocketing and we expect restrictions on supply. This comes on top of the fact that the food prices nearly doubled anyway last year”, he added.
Ensuring commercial imports can get through is an additional challenge for the humanitarian agency. “We need to allow these ships to flow in and out of those ports, -certainly, a check for the embargo of arms- but not stopped when they have food, fuel or other things that are needed for the welfare of the people”, insisted the humanitarian chief.
The poorest Arab nation plunged into civil war in 2014, when Iran-backed Houthi rebels took control of its capital, Sanaa, and part of the north, forcing the government to flee to the south, then to Saudi Arabia. The war has deteriorated into a stalemate. Leading Manuel Bessler of the Swiss agency for development and cooperation to point out “the needs, are humanitarian, but economic as well as political. And in this regard, it is important to see this crisis in a holistic crisis and to mobilize all the attention and all the support we can get.”
Funding shortages have forced two-thirds of major UN projects in Yemen to scale down or close their operations in Yemen. Earlier this year, 8 million people saw their food rations cut in half, with further reductions on the way. “We need to turn every stone to make sure that these dramatically increased needs can be met with the resources that we have available", said Carl Skau from the Swedish Ministry for foreign affairs, adding “we need to broaden the donor base.”
The high-level event will be launched in Geneva today March, 16 at 1430 CET. UN Secretary-General, António Guterres will deliver opening remarks. UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie will also address the gathering. Ms Jolie recently travelled to Yemen to draw attention to the devastating impact of the war and called for support for Yemeni civilians who are facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.