(New York, 19 November 2015): The Head of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, John Ging, warned that the health and education systems in Yemen are on the brink of collapse.
“Eight months of conflict have had a devastating effect on all aspects of life in Yemen, with the health and education sectors the hardest hit,” Mr. Ging warned as he finished a three-day visit to the country. “A sharp reduction in imports and a ban on exports have reduced public and commercial revenues, resulting in collapsing services and livelihoods. Ministries are running out of money for supplies and salaries for health workers and teachers, and there are widespread shortages of medicines to treat chronic illnesses. MSF is warning of a catastrophic situation for dialysis patients in particular.”
Mr. Ging visited Sana’a from 15 to 17 November, meeting affected people, humanitarian partners, and representatives of the Government and the opposition. “Everyone I met called for an immediate end to the conflict and the resumption of normal commercial activities,” said John Ging.
Mr. Ging praised the work of Yemeni civil society organizations, national and international NGOs, the ICRC and UN organizations. "There has been an impressive scale-up of aid operations thanks to the heroic efforts of humanitarian staff, but we must be clear that humanitarian agencies cannot substitute for a country's public services,” noted Mr. Ging. “Peace is the only solution to prevent a humanitarian disaster."
Despite the challenging environment, the United Nations and humanitarian partners are doing their utmost to deliver aid. Agencies are distributing food to 2.4 million people on a monthly basis, providing medical supplies to improve health access for 2.6 million people, and treating 97,000 severely malnourished children. Emergency water and sanitation support has reached 3.7 million people since April, and country-wide vaccination campaigns continue.
Mr. Ging stressed the need for all parties to the conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law: “It is unacceptable to prevent aid deliveries or to steal humanitarian supplies.” He also appealed for the immediate lifting of the siege on Taiz city and an end to the bureaucratic obstacles to aid delivery inside Yemen.
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