As Yemen battles disease, conflict, poverty, and economic crises, the country is quickly losing humanitarian aid.
Rabat – The United Nations has expressed serious concerns for war-torn Yemen, as the country’s population struggles to survive amid numerous crises. UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warned that Yemen will “fall off the cliff” without significant financial support.
Pointing to the alarming death rates from COVID-19 and Cholera, a more than 5-year-old civil war, a failing economy, and 20 million Yemenis suffering from starvation, Lowcock told a closed Security Council meeting on June 24 that the situation is calamitous.
“We have never before seen in Yemen a situation where such a severe acute domestic economic crisis overlaps with a sharp drop in remittances and major cuts to donor support for humanitarian aid – and this of course is all happening in the middle of a devastating pandemic,” Lowcock said.
At least 25% of Yemen’s COVID-19 patients have died, representing “five times the global average.”
Lowcock estimates that the numbers may be higher considering the country’s failing health care system. He added that the pandemic “is adding one more layer of misery upon many others.”
The Yemeni currency, the rial, has seen a rapid depreciation and food prices have increased 10 to 20% over the past two weeks. Remittances have also fallen between a staggering 50 and 70%.
Humanitarian programs in the country are dwindling and donors are pledging approximately half of what was pledged last year.
“Water and sanitation programs that serve four million people will start closing in several weeks. About five million children will go without routine vaccinations, and by August, we will close down malnutrition programs,” explained Lowcock.
Earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged a ceasefire between Yemen’s warring parties. Unable to let the country sink into further distress, humanitarian aid workers and international actors are increasing pressure for solutions.
The country at the Southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula has been at war since 2015, when a US-backed Saudi-led coalition intervened to restore Yemen’s President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi’s rule. Hadi went into exile following the Houthi movement’s uprising—a response to prolonged economic and political instability.
Known as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, Yemen’s war has displaced two million people and cost more than 100,000 lives.