The UN’s head of humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffiths, warned on Tuesday that aid for millions of Yemenis was at risk of being unavailable because donor funds were running out quickly.
Speaking at the UN Security Council, Griffiths said “in December, the World Food Program (WFP) reduced food rations for eight million people. Starting next month, those eight million people may either be without food at all, or their rations will be reduced.”
He added that in March, humanitarian mission flights transporting food, supplies and aid workers into the country may have to be suspended.
Nearly 21 million Yemenis – or more than two-thirds of the population – are in need of humanitarian assistance.
The United Nations has applied for $3.85 billion for 2022, but donors have yet to respond.
“The current scale of inequality is unprecedented in Yemen,” Griffiths said. “We’ve never even considered giving a starving person no food at all,” he added.
Last week Griffiths dispensed $20 million in emergency UN humanitarian aid to Yemen, the second time this year it has spent the same amount of money.
Griffiths warns “if this gap is not addressed, it will be a death sentence for people who, in some cases, have absolutely no mechanisms to deal with hunger and depend on aid for their survival.”
Sweden and Switzerland will co-host the United Nations Conference on Yemen on March 16.
The terrible war in Yemen, which has pushed the country into poverty, is now in its seventh year.
Fighting between Saudi Arabia-backed government forces and Iran-backed Houthi militant forces escalated last September and intensified in January.
Griffiths said more than 650 civilians were killed or injured in January – the highest toll in at least three years.
The environment in Yemen is also dangerous for those who seek to help citizens.
On Friday (12/2), a group of armed men kidnapped five UN staff who were carrying out an official mission in the southern part of Abyan. Griffiths said the United Nations was working on their release.
“This incident is completely unacceptable,” he stressed. [em/rd]