The UN humanitarian chief warned on Tuesday that the “phantoms of famine” had returned to war-torn Yemen, and for the first time singled out Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and did not give any help to the US$3.4 billion in urgently needed aid this year.
Mark Lowcock told the UN Security Council that the famine in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, was averted two years ago because donors quickly met 90% of the UN’s funding needs, allowing humanitarian agencies Aid increased from 8 million to 12 million, saving “millions of lives”.
He said that today, only 30% of the UN̵
Rocock said that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait “have special responsibilities. They have stepped down in recent years. So far, they have achieved nothing for this year’s UN plan.”
Referring to financial pledges that have not yet been recognized as actual donations, he said: “The promise of funds is particularly shameful, which makes people hope that they may be helping, and then dash those hopes by simply failing to fulfill their promises.”
Locock said: “Now continue to withhold funds from the humanitarian response, and it will be a death sentence for many families,” “Therefore, I once again call on all donors to now pay their pledges and increase their support.”
The conflict in Yemen has killed more than 100,000 people and caused the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. More than 3 million people have been internally displaced and two-thirds of the population depend on survival. According to the United Nations, there are approximately 24 million Yemenis, 80% of the country’s population, and need some form of assistance or protection.
The UN special envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council that “increased fighting, increased humanitarian needs, and the COVID-19 pandemic” have already suffered losses.
Lowcock said that the escalation of conflict in recent weeks has worsened the situation, especially in central Yemen. He said: “In August, more civilians died across the country than in any other month of this year.”
Griffith told the Security Council that Yemen can “retire and embark on the road to peace”. He said that he sent a draft “joint statement” to all the warring parties to reflect what had been said in previous rounds of talks.
He said: “Now is the time for the parties involved to quickly conclude negotiations and finalize the “Joint Statement.”
Inclusive political process
Both Griffiths and Lowcock pointed to the worrying situation in Malibu, where more than 1 million people have sought asylum since 2015.
Griffiths said that the fighting there will not only force those seeking asylum to flee again, but will also have political impact and undermine the “prospects of convening an inclusive political process to achieve a transition based on partnership and diversity.”
In a statement issued by Oxfam on Tuesday, 31 non-governmental organizations in Yemen called on the international community and donors to “apply greater pressure on all parties to the conflict and their supporters to immediately stop military operations across the country”.
Lowcock condemned the Yemeni insurgent Houthis for shutting down the airport and humanitarian flights to the United Nations from Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, which controls the city and the north of the country, due to fuel shortages. He said that the shortage has caused serious humanitarian consequences, “but this does not prove that the closure of the airport is justified.”
Lowcock urged a swift solution. If aid workers are to stay in the north safely, the United Nations will maintain operations, including plans to fly 100 tons of humanitarian cargo to Sana’a in the coming weeks.
Neither Griffiths nor Lowcock provided an assessment of the progress of the confrontation with Houthis, which rotted off a tanker full of oil off the coast of Yemen.
The 45-year-old FSO Safer has been abandoned near the Hodeidah port since 2015. The ship has 1.1 million barrels of crude oil on board. A rupture or explosion will have catastrophic consequences for the environment and humanitarianism.
The Houthi has prevented the United Nations from sending a team of inspectors to evaluate the ship.