US, UN Call for Immediate Action as Famine Looms in Yemen

By Washington - Muath Alamri
A Yemeni man carries a water container near a Houthi cemetery in Sanaa last week. (EPA)

The United States and the United Nations called for immediate action to help Yemen mitigate its humanitarian crisis, as the country stands on the brink of famine, poverty, and disease.

USAID's Administrator Samantha Power discussed the humanitarian situation in Yemen during a virtual seminar with the US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking and the Executive Director of the UN's World Food Programme, David Beasley.

Power said Yemen is now in the seventh year of a devastating conflict that has left two-thirds of the country's population in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

She indicated that the US had provided more than $515 million worth of humanitarian assistance of various kinds, allowing the partners to reach those in urgent need.

However, she stressed that it is not enough, adding: "We cannot kid ourselves that it is enough."

The director called on all donors to step up and scale up humanitarian assistance funding with the urgency necessitated by the crisis itself, noting that much more funding is needed to keep Yemen from the brink.

"We call on all parties to allow the unhindered import and distribution of fuel so that hospitals and water treatment can function," she said, adding that one day the conflict in Yemen will be a memory.

Special Envoy Lenderking said that some progress has been made in these efforts, but much hard work remains.

He indicated that the US has built an unprecedented international consensus on resolving the crisis in a way that "we've not seen over the course of the war. And we're witnessing stronger, more united, unified regional efforts to do so."

Yemen does not have to be a forever war, asserted the envoy.

Lenderking said there's broad support for more inclusive peace efforts that build on the solid demand inside of Yemen for peace and opposition to the costly stalemated offensive in Marib, adding that the appointment of a new UN special envoy will bring new momentum to the UN-led peace process.

"We can't ignore the fact that the erosion of the economy and basic services continues to drive the humanitarian crisis throughout Yemen. A lot of people who look at the situation say it looks hopeless. I do not see it that way."

He asserted that the US and millions of Yemenis and humanitarian workers across Yemen haven't given up hope.

They're working tirelessly to care for the most vulnerable and to adapt and find new ways and provide for their families and their communities, said Lenderking, noting that their efforts are having an impact, as they have prevented famine thus far and saved countless lives.

The Yemen humanitarian response is less than 50 percent funded, according to Lenderking.

For his part, Director Beasley warned that 16 million people are marching toward starvation, adding that with the increase of food prices and lack of fuel, the situation is catastrophic.

"We need support for the Yemeni people right now because our supply chain starts to run out again around October. So, we need others to step up immediately to help these innocent people of this war."

He indicated that the program operates in areas of conflict worldwide, with about 80 percent of its operations worldwide or in areas of conflict.

"We know how to come in the most difficult places on Earth and get the aid to the people," said the official, urging all parties "please don't play games with us. Let us reach the people."


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