United Nations officials have said the country is one step away from starvation. A humanitarian pause now could also further efforts to create space for productive political dialogue as part of the UN-facilitated political transition process in which all of Yemen’s communities have important roles to play.
The decision to declare a “Level 3” humanitarian emergency was made at a meeting held by the United Nations’ humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien on Wednesday. The new status triggers UN-wide staffing and funding to step up aid.
Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam said in a post on his Facebook page he had met United Nations special envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on Friday to discuss the matter. He urged all parties to the conflict to agree to a humanitarian pause during the current Muslim holy month of Ramadan to allow desperately needed aid to be delivered.
A week of UN-brokered talks in Geneva earlier this month failed to narrow differences.
The Houthis captured the Yemeni capital Sanaa last September, pushing Hadi’s government aside and began expanding south and westwards.
Yemen slid deeper into turmoil when the Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes in late March to stop an advance by the Iran-backed Huthi rebels who drove the president into exile.
Saudi Arabia, determined to thwart any arms deliveries to the Houthis, has imposed a near total blockade on a country heavily reliant on imports.
Haq said over 21.1 million people in Yemen today need aid, almost 13 million face “a food security crisis” and 9.4 million have little or no access to water, raising the risk of water-borne diseases including cholera.
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