Yemen: UN official calls for scaling up efforts to meet ‘staggering’ humanitarian needs

Residents of Sana’a, capital of Yemen, collecting water at one of the few public distribution points, as most water pumps across the city are no longer working because of the fuel shortages. Photo: OCHA/P. Kropf. June 2015

9 August 2015 – The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen is appealing for significant contributions to scale up efforts to meet the “staggering” needs across the country, where some 21 million people, or 80 per cent of the population, require live-saving assistance.

“The success of our humanitarian effort depends on having sufficient resources to provide assistance,” Johannes Van Der Klaauw said in a statement issued yesterday, following his visit last week to Sa’ada.

He noted that the $1.6 billion humanitarian appeal for Yemen is only 18 per cent funded. “Significant donor contributions are needed immediately to alleviate the suffering of the girls, boys, women and men of Yemen,” he stressed.

The ongoing conflict in Yemen has taken a heavy toll on civilians, more than 1,895 of whom have been killed by fighting since March. More than 15 million people have no access to basic healthcare, while half the population does not have enough food to feed their families, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“The escalation of the conflict in Yemen has a devastating impact on civilian populations, as I witnessed in Sa’ada earlier this week,” said Mr. Van Der Klaauw, who reported that the violence has forced a large number of people to flee their homes, while civilian infrastructure has been destroyed by airstrikes and fighting.

“Violence that directly impacts civilians and attacks on civilian infrastructure must stop,” he stressed. “I cannot overemphasize the importance of all parties protecting civilian lives and livelihoods. Civilian infrastructure must be spared from airstrikes and shelling; at the same time these facilities must not be used for military purposes.”

It will be vital for the humanitarian community scale up its response to the “staggering” humanitarian needs across Yemen, he continued, citing the need for live-saving assistance in areas such as emergency shelter, food security, water and sanitation, medical care, nutrition and psycho-social support. Also critical is bringing children back to school and restoring livelihoods.

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