Yemeni people must be at centre of reinvigorated crisis response – senior UN relief official

A senior United Nations relief official today called for increased global efforts to support the more than 13 million people in need of immediate, life-saving assistance in Yemen, following his visit to the conflict-torn country.

"Seeing the plight of the Yemeni people first-hand reinforces the need for national and international humanitarian actors to scale up their response to protect and support the population," John Ging, Director of Operations in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told reporters in New York.

Mr. Ging appealed for an urgent increase in attention and support for the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan, which requires $1.8 billion this year, but remains "shockingly underfunded" at only 16 per cent.

He undertook his three-day visit with Emergency Director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Rick Brennan, and Deputy Emergency Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Gian Carlo Cirri.

They visited a food distribution site in Amran, a small city in western central Yemen where a high number of internally displaced people are living in difficult conditions as a result of the crisis.

Since mid-March 2015, the conflict has prompted a widening protection crisis, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation brought on by years of poverty, poor governance and instability. Over 7.6 million people are severely food insecure, and 2.5 million people have been displaced by violent conflict since January 2014.

Mr. Ging made a crucial appeal to the parties of the conflict to prioritize the protection of civilians and civilian needs, and to swiftly enable unhindered humanitarian access by lifting the blockade so that humanitarian actors have sustained, unhindered and safe access to all people in need, particularly in the governorates of Taiz, Hajjah, Sa'ada, Aden and Al Jawf.

"The people of Yemen must be at the centre of this response, and our collective duty is to protect them and provide them with food, health, shelter and other vital support," said Mr. Ging.

He noted that people are dying of preventable illnesses because of the limited availability of even the most basic medical supplies.

Last year, the humanitarian community delivered vital assistance to 8.8 million women, children and men across the country despite severe restrictions on humanitarian movement and on-going conflict, making all support, including the transportation of goods, difficult and often dangerous.

Source: UN News Centre