New York [US], July 11 (ANI/Xinhua): The UN deputy relief chief on Monday called for quick and decisive international action as Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe is expected to worsen.
“Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe is about to get much worse,” said Joyce Msuya, UN assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator.
The temporary truce represents a landmark step forward, she said. “But the truce alone will not be enough to stop what we fear is coming. Humanitarian needs across the country, including the risk of famine in some areas, could rise sharply in the coming weeks and months. The international community must act quickly and decisively to stop this.”
The need to protect Yemen’s economy from domestic challenges and from the impact of the conflict in Ukraine remains urgent, she said.
The exchange rate, which is a key factor in how much food people can afford to eat, is still collapsing. The Yemeni rial is now trading at about 1,120 to the US dollar in Aden. Most of the currency’s gains since the truce began have now been wiped out. That means many more families are going hungry again, she said.
The Ukraine conflict is also threatening the supply chains that bring in Yemen’s food, nearly 90 percent of which must be imported. Last year, just under half of all wheat came from Russia and Ukraine. When those supplies were cut off in February, Yemeni importers moved quickly to find other sources. But rising global prices, diminished access to capital and other challenges are making it much harder for importers to keep those supply chains working, said Msuya.
UN relief work is severely threatened by funding shorfalls, she said.
The UN response plan for Yemen has so far received just over 1.1 billion dollars, or 27 percent of what it needs. This is the sharpest year-on-year decrease of any UN-coordinated plan in the world, she said.
“We know budgets are tight, and we deeply appreciate everyone’s contributions. But we also have a responsibility to say clearly: aid agencies are dangerously under-resourced for what we fear is coming. Hunger is worse than ever, and yet the World Food Programme was forced to cut rations for millions of people several weeks ago due to funding gaps. That was the second major food cut in just six months,” she said.
Beyond the response plan, funds for other urgent priorities are also lacking. The UN plan to resolve the threat from the SAFER oil tanker, for example, is still struggling to fill an immediate shortfall of 20 million dollars. The UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism, created in 2016 to facilitate commercial imports to Yemen, is also running out of money. Without additional funding, it will have to shut down in September, she said.
Aid work is becoming more difficult and more dangerous. Intimidation and incitement against aid agencies have continued across Yemen. This is being fuelled by misinformation amplified through social media, messaging apps and in some public forums, said Msuya.
The truce offers a rare opportunity to end the crisis in Yemen for good. Efforts to address and ultimately reduce humanitarian needs should be part and parcel of seizing this opportunity, she said. (ANI/Xinhua)