Despite political progress, humanitarian crisis in Yemen continues [EN/AR]

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 07 Mar 2013
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Today, the Friends of Yemen are meeting in London to discuss the political, economic and security aspects of the on-going transition in Yemen. Ahead of the meeting, the Yemen Humanitarian Country Team (HCT)* warned that without urgently addressing the humanitarian situation, prospects for recovery and, eventually, development in the country will remain distant. The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, stressed that whilst there has been important political progress in the country, the humanitarian crisis continues and he urged the Friends of Yemen and other donors to support the 2013 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan.

The HCT aims to provide assistance to 7.7 million of the most vulnerable people in Yemen in urgent need of humanitarian assistance through the 2013 Humanitarian Response Plan. This year’s plan requires US$716 million to be fully implemented – a 22 per cent increase compared to 2012. Last year’s plan was only 58 per cent funded. “New donor commitments towards the Humanitarian Response Plan will be critical - not only to addressing human suffering but also to make the progress towards recovery irreversible,” said Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

Despite the limited funding, humanitarian partners last year provided food assistance to almost 5 million people, nutrition interventions to 100,000 severely malnourished children, health services to 950,000 people, and access to safe water supplies for more than 1 million people. More than 93 per cent of children in Yemen were vaccinated against a new measles outbreak and 337,000 vulnerable children received protection services. A further 1.2 million children benefitted from education programmes and more than half a million people affected by conflict received shelter and basic household supplies.

The humanitarian challenges in Yemen, however, remain enormous. Over the past two years unrest and instability led to a near-collapse of most basic services and an even sharper increase in poverty, causing alarming rates of food insecurity and malnutrition. The lack of healthcare, clean water and proper sanitation for millions of people has resulted in new outbreaks of fatal diseases, including measles, cholera and polio, and maternal mortality remains high. If not urgently addressed this situation could deteriorate further. Despite the on-going transition process, the Yemeni people have not yet recovered from these shocks or felt any tangible peace dividends.

Conflict has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. While most of those fleeing the violence last year in the south have now returned home, for the returns to be sustainable, urgent assistance is required to restore damaged infrastructure and basic services and to re-establish law and order. However, if stability is to be maintained and the cycle of violence broken, root causes of the conflict must be addressed, especially unemployment and poverty.

In 2013, humanitarian partners aim to significantly scale up life-saving assistance through providing improved access to health care, nutrition interventions, clean water and improved sanitation, shelter and protection services, as well as food assistance for millions of Yemenis. At the same time, an increased presence and access of humanitarian partners and the large-scale return of displaced people in the south means that there is now an opportunity to provide durable solutions for returnees. The HCT sees 2013 not only as a crucial year for providing life-saving assistance to vulnerable Yemenis, but also as a year of opportunity to focus on building their resilience through restoration of livelihoods and capacity building for local organizations and communities.

*The Yemen Humanitarian Country Team comprises some 89 organizations, including UN agencies, international and national non-governmental organizations undertaking joint planning and coordinated humanitarian action under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator.

More information

For more information please contact Mr. Trond Jensen, Head of Office, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen on: +967 712 222 207 or email: jensen8@un.org; or Mr. Erich Ogoso, Public Information Officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen on: +967 712 222 Tel. (+967) 831 or email: ogoso@un.org.

Notes to the editor:

More than 10 million people - 45% of the Yemeni population - do not have sufficient access to food. Chronic malnutrition continues to threaten the future of Yemeni children, and there are one million acutely malnourished children of whom 250,000 risk death if they do not receive immediate assistance. A further 13 million Yemenis do not have access to clean water and proper sanitation and 6 million people lack access to basic health care, including life-saving reproductive health services for women and girls. Lack of healthcare, clean water and proper sanitation has resulted in new outbreaks of fatal diseases, including measles, cholera and polio, and maternal mortality remains high at between 4 and 8 deaths every day. The situation is particularly precarious for girls and women at risk of gender based violence. In the northern governorates more than 300,000 people remain displaced from conflict, with only distant prospects of return. In the south of the country, prospects for the many displaced between 2011-12 have improved. Some 140,000 people have returned home and are receiving shelter, basic household items, and food assistance to help rebuild their lives. However, due to funding shortages food rations have recently been temporarily reduced for IDP and returnees throughout the country.

Yemen also continues to struggle with an unprecedented influx of refugees and migrants, particularly from the Horn of Africa. In 2012 alone, more than 107,000 people arrived along the Yemeni shores. Yemen is currently hosting nearly a quarter of a million refugees. However, most of the new arrivals are Ethiopian migrants and many become stranded in Yemen after failing to cross into other Gulf States, in search of economic opportunities. These people are extremely vulnerable, often being exposed to economic and sexual exploitation, as well as trafficking.

Jens Laerke
Spokesperson and Public Information Officer OCHA Geneva
Phone: +41 22 917 11 42
Mobile: +41 (0)79 472 9750
Email: laerke@un.org
Twitter: @JensLaerke

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
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