UNITED NATIONS, Feb 19 (IPS) – Yemen is heading in the direction of the worst famine the world has seen in many years, the United Nations Security Council was warned in a briefing yesterday.
“Across Yemen, more than 16 million people are going hungry – including 5 million who are just one step away from famine,” Mark Lowcock, the UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, mentioned throughout the briefing. The nation has a inhabitants of simply over 29 million.
Lowcock briefed the council concerning the worsening meals insecurity and malnourishment of kids in the nation, amongst different points. He identified 4 areas that should be addressed instantly: safety of civilians, humanitarian entry, funding for assist companies, and establishing peace.
At the briefing, Lowcock highlighted the problem of starvation and youngster malnutrition in a rustic the place individuals are extra nervous about starvation than the COVID-19 pandemic.
He identified that at the moment, extreme malnourishment impacts 400,00 kids underneath the age of 5 in the nation — most of whom have just some weeks or months to dwell.
“These are the children with distended bellies, emaciated limbs and blank stares – they are starving to death,” Lowcock mentioned.
Hunger and battle are inextricably linked as they each breed off of one another: starvation results in battle, and battle results in starvation, Annabel Symington, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP) in Yemen, advised IPS.
“The alarming hunger levels in Yemen have been caused by six years of conflict and the almost near total economic collapse that has resulted in over half the population – 16 million people facing crisis level of food insecurity, and 50,000 people living in famine-like conditions,” Symington mentioned, including that the pandemic has been an exacerbating issue in an already deep battle.
Lowcock additionally raised the problem of the latest assault on Marib metropolis, the stronghold of the federal government, calling it an “extremely dangerous” escalation. “It threatens to send hundreds of thousands of people again running for their lives at a time when everyone should be doing everything possible to stop famine,” he mentioned.
“Front lines are reportedly moving closer to civilian areas. At least four missiles landed in Marib city in the last ten days – seemingly fired indiscriminately. Those attacks killed at least three civilians. Missiles have also landed around camps for displaced people. Thousands are already fleeing,” he mentioned.
But Ibrahim Jalal from the Middle East Institute (MEI) says the UN ought to have delivered a stronger message and particularly named Yemen’s Houthi group who had been accountable for offensive in Marib metropolis.
“I think the first thing I expected is more clarity in language,” Jalal, a non-resident scholar on the MEI’s Gulf Affairs and Yemen Programme, advised IPS after the briefing. “You see so many issues when they talk about protection of civilians, or humanitarian issues at stake or even the military escalation by Houthis in Marib — they were not named in any form of clarity.”
He criticised Lowcock’s dialogue of the Marib assault in addition to the SAFER tanker situation as ones with out a lot nuance or essential questions. He mentioned regardless that Lowcock introduced up these points, it remained “clearly unanswered” for a lot of as to why these incidents passed off and who must be held accountable in response.
Jalal believes Lowcock ought to have additionally particularly addressed the problem of internally displaced peoples (IDP) camps, which have been hit significantly exhausting by the newest assaults.
“The situation in Marib is quite alarming, so things should’ve been spelled just very clearly — language matters,” Jalal mentioned. “I don’t see that there.”
Meanwhile Lowcock additionally identified the challenges in completely different components of the nation which are hampering assist.
In the south, there are administration challenges similar to delays in signing undertaking agreements or releasing gear.
In the north, he mentioned, Ansar Allah authorities are those inflicting delays in assist companies reaching the individuals.
“ regularly attempts to interfere with aid delivery and they regularly harass aid agencies and staff,” he mentioned. “This is unacceptable.”
Ansar Allah can be an impediment for the UN’s potential to handle the SAFER tanker situation, he mentioned.
“Ansar Allah authorities recently announced plans to review their approval for the long-planned mission and advised the UN to pause some preparations,” he mentioned. “They have now dropped this review. Unfortunately, we only heard that they dropped the review after a key deadline had passed to deploy the team in March.”
“I want to emphasise that the UN remains eager to help solve this problem,” Lowcock added. “We think it poses a clear and present danger to everybody across the country.”
But Jalal nonetheless felt that these had been mere phrases that wouldn’t translate into actions.
“I don’t think it was bold,” he mentioned concerning Lowcock’s assertion. “It was just another UN statement that might not meet the urgency and the alarming threats over the two million IDPs in Marib, or even the catastrophic looming environmental disaster on by the SAFER tanker issue.”
Jalal mentioned he’s involved that the SAFER tanker situation retains being pushed behind in precedence 12 months after 12 months.
“When you have a looming multi-faceted crisis, the first thing is you address it,” he mentioned. “But without addressing it, you’re deliberately or inadvertently contributing to the escalation of the crisis and now it’s more alarming than ever.”
Meanwhile Symington at WFP expressed hope concerning the United States’ administration’s latest declaration about ending the warfare in Yemen.
“Conflict is the core driver of the hunger crisis in Yemen, so any positive steps towards ending the conflict are strongly welcomed,” Symington advised IPS. “We are hopeful that any steps towards peace will ultimately alleviate the hunger crisis in Yemen.”
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