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19 million Yemenis in need of relief aid: Puppet UN official

28 February 2017 13:06

 

The UN relief aid chief says 19 million out of Yemen’s 26-million population are in pressing need of humanitarian assistance, warning that the impoverished country faces a “serious risk of famine.”

Speaking during a visit to the Yemeni port city of Aden, Stephen O’Brien, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, called on the international community to increase its funding for life-saving operations in Yemen.

“Today, almost 19 million people in Yemen need humanitarian assistance. Seven million people don’t know where their next meal is coming from and we now face a serious risk of famine,” O’Brien said.

Citing tallies by health facilities, the UN official said more than 7,500 people have been killed and more than 40,000 more wounded since March 2015, when the Saudi military launched a deadly military campaign against Yemen in support of its former government and imposed an all-out naval blockade on its neighbor.

United Nations aid chief Stephen O’Brien arrives in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden, February 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

“We [however] know this is an underreporting, given the dilapidated state of the health system and health facilities across the country and their inability to accurately report the real numbers,” he added.

On Thursday, Yemen’s Legal Center for Rights and Development, an independent monitoring group, said the civilian death toll from the warfare had climbed to 12,041. The fatalities, it said, comprise 2,568 children and 1,870 women.

O’Brien further said, “Even before the conflict escalated in March 2015, people in Yemen faced enormous levels of humanitarian needs stemming from years of poverty, under-development, environmental decline, intermittent conflict, unpunished corruption, weak rule of law, and rampant human rights violations.”

The official said he was in Aden to discuss the humanitarian situation with members of the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who resigned in 2014 and fled the capital, Sana’a, to Riyadh before coming back to Aden last year.

O’Brien is also scheduled to travel to Sana’a where he will meet with officials of the Houthi Ansarullah movement, which is running Yemen’s affairs and defending the nation against the Saudi military offensive with the help of army soldiers and popular forces.

O’Brien further called on Yemeni warring sides “to facilitate commercial imports of food, fuel and medicine from all ports and a resumption of commercial flights” to the Arabian Peninsula state.

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