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Yemen Famine That Only Money Can Not Solve

Yemen needs our help (Courtesy photo for education only)

Mark Lowcock UN Under-Secretary General for humanitarian affairs and relief coordinator (UN photo for education only)

Yemen needs our help (Courtesy photo for education only)

Yemen needs our help (Courtesy photo for education only)

WebPublicaPress (UNITED NATIONS) New York – Although Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary General for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator in February this year (2021) warned United Nations and World that Yemen is speeding towards a massive famine. - again, not enough seems to have been done to prevent this catastrophe.

He sad World agree what the problem is, yet “we are failing to stop the famine.” Asking why is like that Lowcock confessed  ”the biggest reason seems to be that it costs a lot of money.”

Money is problem again

In his latest address to the UN Security Council, Lowcock said that urgent steps must be taken urgently to provide Yemen with adequate assistance. Here is what he said in his address:

“We have been asking everyone to return to the funding levels we saw two years ago. On 1 March, the Secretary-General convened a pledging event for Yemen, co-hosted by Sweden and Switzerland.

Several donors, including Canada, France, Germany and Japan, pledged more than ever. I released an additional $40 million from the CERF, and the Yemen Humanitarian Fund has just allocated $73 million.”

But Money can not solve everything

“Of course, money isn’t the only factor here. As I’ve said before, we also need: protection of civilians, access, economic support and peace.”

Lowcock said the humanitarian catastrophe that is taking place is the result of long struggles in which civilians are left without a roof over their heads and livelihoods. He added that about 15,000 people have fled the fighting and more than half are crowded into makeshift camps or other dangerous sites. “If fighting escalates, tens of thousands more will flee, likely into severely deprived camps that are already over-capacity.”

“Hostilities in Marib have also set off escalations elsewhere, notably in Taizz, Hudaydah and Hajjah. All parties must take constant care to spare civilians and civilian objects throughout military operations.

As we discuss protection, I also want to highlight the plight of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants.

On 4 March, at least 20 people drowned when human-traffickers forced dozens of passengers to jump off a crowded boat bound for Yemen. This was the third such drowning in six months.

And on 7 March, a devastating fire tore through an overcrowded migrant detention centre in Sana’a, killing dozens of people and injuring more than 170.

These are just the latest examples of the grave risks these groups face in Yemen. The authorities have a responsibility to protect them, and the United Nations is eager to support the authorities with this.

Agencies are assisting these groups but often face hurdles in doing so, especially in the north. We

Mark Lowcock UN Under-Secretary General for humanitarian affairs and relief coordinator (UN photo for education only)

Mark Lowcock UN Under-Secretary General for humanitarian affairs and relief coordinator (UN photo for education only)

call on the authorities to allow access and freedom of movement and to support principled, voluntary returns.

As in the rest of the world, the UN will never run detention sites or facilitate deportations. Detention should be a last resort only when legally warranted and when safe, humane standards are in place.

Yemen needs greater accountability for all serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in Yemen, including any violations against refugees and migrants.”

And COVID is an additional problem

UN Representative said the Government of Yemen has recently been working with United Nations to address several ongoing concerns on timelines for project approvals and other administrative issues. The Government has also been an essential partner in preparing for a planned COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

“In the north, aid agencies still face many obstacles, mostly due to bureaucratic impediments. Last year, we saw important improvements on key issues like assessments and biometric targeting. The latter especially was a major step forward.

This progress must continue. Agencies and donors are working together to safeguard principled aid delivery and protection across the country. Donors will also be contacting Ansar Allah directly on this.

On the SAFER tanker, the United Nations is still discussing with Ansar Allah several logistical issues that are delaying the mission. The UN is being as flexible as possible because we want the project to start.

So far Ansar Allah has not been as flexible in return. There are several pending issues where the UN has no room for manoeuvre, either because the budget can’t accommodate it, or because there would be safety concerns for mission personnel.

When Ansar Allah agreed to the mission plan in November 2020, they also committed to facilitate mission preparations and logistics. The UN remains eager to help.

Madam President, the next issue is the economic collapse, which is a major driver of famine risk. It is also fuelling instability, as shown by recent protests over lack of services and currency depreciation.

There are two quick wins to mitigate the impact of this collapse. Both relate to commercial imports, which is how Yemen gets most of its food, fuel and everything else.

The first is to strengthen the Yemeni rial. Unprecedented depreciation in recent months has meant that millions more people can no longer afford food or other essentials.

Foreign-exchange injections stabilized the rial in the past and could do so again. I know from discussions with the Prime Minister and others that the Government is eager to work with its partners to create a workable system for these injections. I hope Yemen’s partners will take this forward.

What would be the win strategy

The other quick win is to ensure adequate supplies of commercial imports can enter Yemen through all ports. In recent months, commercial food imports have continued flowing.

But fuel, which is essential to transport food, pump water and keep hospitals open, has come to a halt.

The drop is one of the major reasons fuel prices have recently doubled or tripled in some areas. Higher fuel prices are now pushing up prices of food, water, healthcare and everything else.

In the last several weeks, we have heard more reports of health facilities closing down because they’ve run out of fuel or people not getting treatment they need because they can’t afford to travel.

The shortages are also increasingly impacting humanitarian agencies’ ability to operate.

The Government has blocked all commercial fuel imports to Hudaydah since January. In recent years, more than half of Yemen’s fuel imports had entered through Hudaydah.

Right now, 13 fuel ships are waiting outside Hudaydah, carrying two months of imports. On average, these ships have been waiting more than 80 days for Government clearance. All have been inspected and cleared by the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism.

The Government isn’t clearing them because of a months-long dispute with Ansar Allah over revenue. That is causing some importers to cancel their trips altogether. The parties must resolve this dispute.

US can help

The Under-Secretary General praised Washington’s new strategy and new approach to resolving the Yemeni crisis by the new U.S. administration. Lowcock said the renewed US commitment to a diplomatic solution has opened a window for anyone who isserious about ending the war – despite the recent escalation in Marib and elsewhere.

“That opportunity will be wasted if Yemen tips into famine. So I again call on everyone to do everything you can – including more money for the aid operation – to stop the famine.

But there is more everyone can do. Ansar Allah must stop the dangerous Marib offensive. The fuel blockade on Hudaydah must end, and other commercial goods must keep flowing. And Yemen needs a nationwide ceasefire – not just in Marib, but across the country – and a return to the political process.”

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