7 March 2013 – If the humanitarian situation in Yemen is not urgently addressed, there will be no prospects for recovery and development, United Nations aid agencies and their partners stressed today, as a meeting focusing on the country’s ongoing transition got under way in London.
The 2013 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan urgently requires $716 million to provide emergency and early recovery assistance to 7.7 million of the country’s most vulnerable. The figure represents a 22 per cent increase over last year’s plan, which 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,” the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said in a press release issued on behalf of the Yemen Humanitarian Country Team.
The team comprises 89 international and national organizations, including UN agencies, under the leadership of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator.
The humanitarian community is keeping a close eye on the discussions at the “Friends of Yemen” meeting, which brings together representatives from 35 countries and organizations, and focuses on political, economic and security topics related to the country.
“If stability is to be maintained and the cycle of violence broken, root causes of the conflict must be addressed, especially unemployment and poverty,” the Humanitarian Country Team said.
The Team called 2013 a crucial year for assistance, and also a “year of opportunity” to focus on building Yemenis’ resilience through restoration of livelihoods and capacity building for local organizations and communities.
Yemen has been undergoing a democratic transition, under the leadership of President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour, who came to power in the February 2012 election. This followed the agreement signed by warring factions in November 2011 on a transitional settlement in the wake of widespread protests similar to those seen across the Middle East and North Africa and the resignation of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Amid the political transition, violence forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. Most of those fleeing the violence last year in the south have now returned home. The humanitarian community said today that for the returns to be sustainable, “urgent assistance is required to restore damaged infrastructure and basic services and to re-establish law and order.”
The insecurity also led to the near-collapse of most basic services and an increase in poverty, causing alarming rates of food insecurity and malnutrition. More than 10 million people – almost half the country’s population – are estimated to need food assistance, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). Child malnutrition rates are also among the highest in the world with close to half of Yemen’s children under five years – two million children – stunted and one million acutely malnourished.
In addition, Yemen hosts some 230,000 registered refugees, mostly from neighbouring Somalia, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).