Yemen

UN Relief Chief in Yemen: Humanitarians ready to scale up, but need all parties to facilitate their work [EN/AR]

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(Sana’a, 28 October 2017) At the end of a five-day mission to Yemen, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, stressed the need for more funding and better humanitarian access to the population in need, calling all parties to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians.

“This visit has reaffirmed to me that the United Nations and partners have the capacity to further scale up. But we need more generous and timely donor financing, and demonstrated commitment by all parties to do all they can to help facilitate and never hinder humanitarians’ work,’’ he said.

“It has been shocking to see the terrible impact of this man-made conflict. In Aden and Sana’a, and during my visits to Lahj, Hudadydah, Hajjah, and Amran governorates, I have met hundreds of Yemenis, and listened to their stories of atrocious suffering,” he said.

Mr Lowcock held frank discussions with the Government in Aden and those in positions of authority in Sana’a on ways to alleviate the suffering of the population and address the challenging operating environment.

“In Aden I asked the Prime Minister, among other things, to ensure progress on paying salaries to health workers, teachers and other civil servants, to get Sana’a’s airport reopened for commercial and humanitarian flights and to improve the operation of the ports, especially AlHudaydah,” he said.

“In Sana’a I have raised serious concerns about the operating environment facing the UN and other humanitarian agencies. I am concerned about the increasing levels of interference in the work of the humanitarian agencies, including delays in granting and denial of visas, delays of essential equipment and supplies at the ports, bureaucratic impediments affecting NGOs and preventing essential assessments of needs so that we can target our assistance most effectively.”

Mr. Lowcock stressed that the end to the horrendous suffering in Yemen requires an end to the conflict, for which a political resolution to the crisis is needed. He called on all parties in Yemen and those outside who support and have influence over them to ensure they respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians.

“In the absence of substantial progress on all these points, the already dire situation will continue to deteriorate. The human suffering, already extreme, will grow and grow,” he said.

Note to Editors

Yemen is facing one of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, including the fastest growing cholera epidemic ever recorded, the world’s largest food emergency and widespread population displacement.

Some 20 million people require humanitarian assistance, seven million of whom are severely food insecure, staving off the threat of famine.

Despite challenging conditions and lack of funding, UN and humanitarian parties are providing direct assistance to more than 7 million people each month.

Mr. Lowcock travelled to Yemen from 24 to 28 October, in his first visit to the country since he began work as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator on 1 September 2017.

In addition to meeting Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Dagher and other Yemeni officials in Aden, Mr. Lowcock held meetings with senior people in positions of authority in Sana’a, and with United Nations humanitarian agencies, international non-governmental organizations, and members of the diplomatic community.

For more information, please contact:

Ahmed Ben Lassoued (Yemen), benlassoued@un.org | +967 712 222 855
Russell Geekie (New York), geekie@un.org | +1 917 331 0393

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.