Some 13 per cent of Yemenis have been displaced by the ongoing conflict in the country, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Yemen warned yesterday.
Jean-Nicolas Beuze said that besides diseases such as cholera and malaria, the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated people’s tragedies and complicated the work of local partners, warning that the virus could have dire consequences on the situation the ground.
Remarking on the impact of the lack of funding on the UNHCR’s work, Beuze explained that, like other humanitarian organisations, UNHCR faces an ethical dilemma having to choose who will receive assistance and in what way.
“Lack of funding forces us to significantly reduce the number of shelter packages that we distribute in emergency situations which could lead to thousands of families living in the open and being exposed to many risks in times of floods; without protection from infectious diseases or exploitation,” he said.
The UN official explained that reducing the number of beneficiaries of UNHCR’s cash assistance program will leave dozens of families without the ability to purchase food, medicine or clothing and will force displaced families and refugee to make dangerous choices to secure their livelihoods, such as reducing their food rations, begging or engaging in dangerous work or sending their children to do so.
He noted that UNHCR’s cash assistance program has become a lifeline for more than 1.5 million of the most vulnerable displaced Yemenis.
Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014, when Houthis overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.
More than one hundred thousand Yemenis, including civilians, are believed to have been killed in the conflict, which has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as millions remain at risk of starvation.