Mil­lions at risk as peace talks stall

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

The di­rec­tor of UN hu­man­i­tar­ian oper­a­tions has warned that 7.6 mil­lion peo­ple in con­flict-torn Ye­men face se­vere food short­ages and are “one step” from famine.

John Ging, who just re­turned from Ye­men, told a news con­fer­ence that there has been “a shock­ing fall off” in sup­port from the donor com­mu­nity over the last few months for the mil­lions of Ye­me­nis who need food, clean water and ba­sic health care.

The UN ap­peal for $1.8 bil­lion to help more than 13 mil­lion Ye­me­nis this year is just 16 per cent funded, he said, de­spite Ye­men be­ing de­clared one of the UN’s high­est-level hu­man­i­tar­ian emer­gen­cies.

Ging urged govern­ments fac­ing mul­ti­ple de­mands for as­sis­tance not to for­get Ye­men. He said the United States, United King­dom, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and Ja­pan had con­trib­uted to the 2016 ap­peal.

The big­gest change from 2015, Ging said, was the ab­sence of a con­tri­bu­tion from Saudi Ara­bia, which do­nated $245 mil­lion to last year’s UN ap­peal. He said the donor base for Ye­men must be ex­panded, say­ing Saudi Ara­bia, the GCC states and many other coun­tries were be­ing con­tacted. He stressed that any con­tri­bu­tions from par­ties to a con­flict can’t have strings at­tached.

A ma­jor fo­cus of the UN hu­man­i­tar­ian sum­mit in Is­tan­bul next week is hu­man­i­tar­ian fi­nanc­ing, he said, be­cause UN ap­peals that cover min­i­mum needs are less than 50 per cent funded and new ways must be found to pro­vide life-sav­ing sup­port.

In the Ye­men con­flict, a Saudi-led coali­tion sup­port­ing the in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised gov­ern­ment is bat­tling Shia rebels known as Houthis and their al­lies. The Houthis have held Ye­men’s cap­i­tal, Sanaa, since Septem­ber 2014. Ging said over 6,000 peo­ple have been killed, in­clud­ing 930 chil­dren.

On Tues­day, Ye­men’s For­eign Min­is­ter, Ab­dulMa­lik Al Mekhlafi, an­nounced the sus­pen­sion of peace talks held in Kuwait af­ter weeks of no progress, say­ing the rebels refuse to ac­cept the le­git­i­macy of the coun­try’s in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised pres­i­dent.

Ging said more than 10 mil­lion Ye­me­nis need ba­sic health care and over 7.6 mil­lion “are se­verely food in­se­cure” - which “on the in­ter­na­tional in­dex of food in­se­cu­rity is one step be­low the level of famine”.

“So it’s a very frag­ile sit­u­a­tion, and it’s a huge num­ber of peo­ple that are in that sta­tus,” he said.

“The nu­tri­tion sit­u­a­tion in Ye­men is also very acute.”

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