Roundup: UN relief chief stresses need to end "human catastrophe" in Yemen

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, February 17, 2016
Adjust font size:

A senior UN official on Tuesday called for more international efforts to end "human catastrophe" in Yemen, saying that the UN Security Council and the international community must urge the parties to the conflict to ensure unconditional and sustained humanitarian access to all parts of the Middle East country.

In a briefing to the 15-nation council, Stephen O'Brien, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, cited the extraordinarily difficult and dangerous circumstances across the country in delivering assistance to millions of people in need.

Just this past Saturday, he added, a Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a building 200 metres away from a facility that accommodates UN and diplomatic personnel.


"The parties to the conflict have a duty of care in the conduct of military operations to protect all civilian persons and objects, including humanitarian and health care workers and facilities, against attack," O'Brien said, reminding all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to facilitate humanitarian access to all areas of Yemen.

More than 1.8 million children have been out of school since mid-March 2015, bringing the total number to more than 3.4 million, when combined with pre-crisis figures, he said.

More than 1,170 schools are now unfit for use due to conflict-related damage, presence of displaced people, or occupation by armed groups. Water infrastructure serving at least 900,000 people has been either damaged or destroyed by airstrikes, artillery and rockets.

Recent communication received from Saudi Arabia regarding the safety of humanitarian workers in al Houthi-controlled areas has impacted the humanitarian community's planning, causing delays to important missions over the past two weeks, he said, adding that this followed the denial of entry to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 17 of the regional humanitarian coordinator.

On Feb. 11, a vessel chartered by the World Food Programme (WFP), traveling from Djibouti with a scheduled and approved stop in the Yemen port of Hodeidah, was diverted by coalition forces to the Saudi port of Jizan, he said.

Humanitarian assistance reached the Taiz city enclave following a high level mission led by the humanitarian coordinator on Jan. 22, he said. The area faces severe access restrictions by al-Houthis, and is home to more than 200,000 people.

Deliveries covered food for around 18,000 people, non-food items for approximately 1,250 families, and medical supplies including 170 oxygen cylinders and 30,000 units of dialysis sessions.


Over the weekend, additional assistance has reached the enclave, including food for a further 18,000 people, cancer treatment drugs, surgical items, intravenous fluids and anaesthetic supplies, as well as HIV antiretroviral treatments. Efforts are ongoing to establish a monitoring mechanism that will enable predictable access, as opposed to ad hoc "one-time" deliveries, said the senior UN official.

Humanitarian assistance must be complemented by efforts to revive the economy and flow of much-needed commercial goods, which has been severely impeded by the ongoing conflict, O'Brien said. Given the heavy dependence of Yemen on imported food and fuel, it will be critical to ensure inspections under Security Council resolution 2216 do not adversely impact the flow of commercial shipping into Yemen of basic items that civilians rely on to survive, he said.

To that end, the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) has now been formally launched, he said, noting that the Secretary-General has formally requested the Yemeni authorities and the Saudi-led coalition to appoint representatives to sit on its Steering Committee by Feb. 22.

The mechanism will operate for an initial six months out of Djibouti, and will move to Aden and/or Sana'a when the security situation permits. UNVIM monitors will also be based in Dubai, Jeddah and Salalah to work with the relevant authorities, he said.

In two days' time, the 2016 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan will be launched in Geneva, asking for 1.8 billion U.S. dollars to address the most critical and prioritized needs across all governorates in the country, including food assistance for nearly nine million people, water and sanitation support for 7.4 million people; urgent health support for 10.6 million people; and emergency interventions to mitigate growing and severe malnutrition rates, he said.

"Nearly one year into the conflict, it is now more important than ever that we address the human catastrophe unfolding in Yemen," said O'Brien, underscoring the urgent need for the Security Council and the international community to impress upon the parties to the conflict their obligations to facilitate unconditional and sustained access to all parts of Yemen, and to take greater measures to protect civilians. Enditem

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from