Yemen

Humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Johannes van der Klaauw remarks to the press in Geneva, 10 April 2015

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As the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, I would like to share with you that the humanitarian situation in Yemen is getting worse by the hour. Conflict is now affecting 15 out of the 22 governorates in the country. Millions of people are at risk of physical injury or death due to ongoing fighting on the ground and airstrikes, but also because of the quick unravelling of anything there was left of basic services including health care, safe water and availability of food.

We should not forget that the current conflict in Yemen takes place against the backdrop of a humanitarian crisis of a protracted nature and of a size and a complexity which is amongst the largest in the world. That was already the case before, and this current conflict has aggravated the situation and has made the population increasingly vulnerable.

Already before the latest escalation of the conflict, 16 million of the 25 million Yemenis required, and are requiring, humanitarian assistance to meet their most basic needs. As I said, the conflict is aggravating the needs of the most vulnerable and putting others at grave risk. Ordinary Yemeni families are struggling to access health care, water, food and fuel – commodities that are basic requirements for their survival. Thousands of Yemeni families have had to flee as a result of the fighting, and we see now the regional dimension of the flows out of Yemen into Djibouti and the autonomous parts of Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland.

The civilian infrastructure, including schools, health facilities, markets, power plants and warehouses has been damaged and disrupted by the fighting. Shortages of food and fuel are now being reported across the country and as a result, prices for food and commodities have increased significantly. Many areas in the country are now also experiencing frequent power cuts, shortages of water and fuel. In the second city of the country, Aden, one million people risk being cut off from access to clean drinking water within a matter of days unless additional fuel is brought in.

Health facilities are also under great strain: they lack fuel for the generators and water necessary to maintain basic operations. There is an urgent need for support to mass casualty management, including trauma kits and other medical supplies.

We as the humanitarian community in Yemen are on the ground. We do our utmost to deliver life-saving assistance and protection services, to the extent possible, through our national UN staff and the national staff of international NGOs, as well as through a strong network of national community-based NGOs. Humanitarian partners have provided medical supplies and trauma kits for 18 hospitals throughout Yemen, among other things. Yemeni national staff of the United Nations and international NGOs are making every effort to deliver life-saving assistance and protection to people in need across the country.

However, these national staff often do so at great personal risk. Three Yemeni aid workers of the Yemeni Red Crescent have recently been killed in crossfire in Aden while trying to save the lives of others. The current impact of the fighting on civilians, including aid workers, is simply unacceptable.

As the Humanitarian Coordinator, I have been calling on all parties to the conflict to ensure that civilians are protected and that the civilian infrastructure is protected. This infrastructure is indispensable for the survival of the people. I have also called on all the parties to the conflict, and I will continue doing this, that they should allow humanitarian organisations and its personnel to deliver assistance to those most vulnerable Yemeni people and to facilitate humanitarian staff and supplies to reach the country, by air and by boat. We must be able, as aid workers, to safely deliver this life-saving assistance in all affected areas in Yemen. To this end, I have been calling, and doing it again this morning, on all the parties for an immediate humanitarian pause in this conflict.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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