Some 17 million Yemenis do not know if and where they would get their next meal, nearly seven million are facing the threat of famine and 16 million lacked access to water, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien told UN Security Council on Friday.
Adding that it grieved him that in the last two years, despite his best efforts, he had been unable to make any significant progress in the war-torn country, he said:
We must remember that these figures represent human faces and enormous suffering
He also said that Yemen’s catastrophe was the direct result of deliberate policies, tactics and actions of the warring parties and their powerful backers.
O’Brien stated that only 45 per cent of health facilities are functioning and some 1.2 million public employees, including health workers and teachers, had been paid erratically or not at all since last October. “This human tragedy is deliberate,” he stressed.
The senior UN official said that the war continues to be vicious and brutal, with frequent disregard for international humanitarian law, noting that in 2017, the number of air strikes per month was three times higher than in 2016, and monthly reports of armed clashes were up by more than 50 per cent.
Regarding cholera, he said that international bodies are working hard to help deal with this epidemic which has spread throughout the country with half a million Yemenis affected and around 2,000 deaths recorded to date.
O’Brien called on the member states of the UNSC to pressure the parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and ensure that civil servants across the country are paid immediately.
Meanwhile, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to Yemen, said Yemen was going through a critical and agonising period.
“Those who survived cholera will continue to suffer the consequences of the “political cholera” that infects Yemen and continues to obstruct the road towards peace,” Cheikh Ahmed added.