Act now over Yemen conflict or share blame for mass famine
by OCHA, Unicef, Save the Children, NRC, agencies
3:10pm 22nd Nov, 2018
Act now over Yemen conflict or share blame for mass famine. (CNN)
The United States will bear shared responsibility for what may be the largest famine in decades if it does not cease its military support for the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Yemen, the heads of five major humanitarian organizations have warned.
In an unusually stark joint statement, the leaders of the International Rescue Committee, Oxfam America, CARE US, Save the Children USA and the Norwegian Refugee Council USA together urged the US government to act to save Yemeni lives.
"The stakes in Yemen are shocking and must be stated clearly: 14 million people are at risk of starving to death in Yemen if the parties to the conflict and their supporters do not change course immediately," their statement says.
Unless the warring parties immediately cease hostilities, reopen all Yemen''s ports to let in commercial shipments, allow humanitarian staff and aid to reach those in need, and stabilize the Yemeni economy, including by paying civil servants, "countless" Yemenis are unlikely to live through the winter, the humanitarian leaders warn.
"If the government of Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Ansar Allah, and other parties to the conflict fail to take these steps, and if the United States does not use all levers of pressure to compel them to do so, responsibility for the deaths of many more Yemeni civilians will lie not only with the parties to the conflict, but with the United States as well," the statement says.
Yemen''s war of three-and-a-half years has killed at least 10,000 people and pushed the nation to the brink of the world''s worst famine in 100 years, leaving 14 million people -- about half the country''s population -- at risk of starvation, according to the United Nations.
Save the Children said Wednesday that an estimated 85,000 children under the age of 5 may have died from extreme hunger or disease since the war began.
The US and others have supported the Saudi and UAE-led coalition in its fight to expel Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen.
But in recent weeks, moves to find a solution to the conflict have picked up pace, with international pressure mounting against Saudi Arabia, the most powerful player in what started as a civil war but evolved into a proxy conflict.
Fighting has erupted again in the strategic port city of Hodeidah, aid workers told CNN, after briefly easing off. Violence around the rebel-held port has severely affected the delivery of aid.
The five humanitarian organizations acknowledge that the US is one of the most generous humanitarian donors in Yemen. But, they say, "these contributions pale in comparison to the harm caused by US military support and diplomatic cover to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates."
While the Trump administration has said that ending the war in Yemen and relieving the humanitarian crisis are top national security priorities, the statement says, "US policies tell a different story. By providing such extensive military and diplomatic support for one side of the conflict, the United States is deepening and prolonging a crisis that has immediate and severe consequences for Yemen, and civilians are paying the price."
The statement adds that the crisis is "entirely man-made" and that the deaths in Yemen cannot be dismissed as an inevitable consequence of war. "The causes of death will be import restrictions, blockades, non-payment of government salaries, inflation, job losses, displacement, declining incomes, and violent attacks that kill civilians and destroy the infrastructure that delivers food and safe water," it said.
The humanitarian organizations will stay to deliver help to the people of Yemen as they have since the war began, often at great risk, the five leaders said.
"But now, as violence escalates, and the insidious tactics of war take hold of millions of people, we have no means left to avert a catastrophe in Yemen; every humanitarian effort can no longer prevent mass starvation if the war is not brought to an end immediately and urgent efforts undertaken to ensure food, fuel, and other vital supplies reach those in greatest need," they said.
The World Food Programme reports that operations at Yemen''s lifeline port of Hodeidah have nearly halved in two weeks, with shipping companies deterred by insecurity in the flashpoint Houthi-held city.
As 70 percent of imports come in through the vital Hodeidah port, a drop in the arrival of wheat and other supplies would affect food stocks in Yemen where 14 million people are facing possible starvation after nearly four years of war, WFP said.
"WFP is very concerned about a nearly 50 percent decrease in operations at Hodeidah port over last two weeks," spokesman Herve Verhoosel told a Geneva news briefing.
"Shipping companies appear to be reluctant to call to Hodeidah port because of the high levels of insecurity in the city," he said.
"Further disruptions to the port operations would hamper humanitarian efforts to prevent famine as well as increase food prices in markets even further, making it extremely difficult for the majority of Yemenis to feed their families," he said.
On Monday a single vessel was at Hodeidah port, which was "not normal" for a port whose current offloading capacity is for seven vessels, he said, adding: "We need to reassure the private sector to say ''come back to the port''.
http://www.savethechildren.net/article/famine-or-not-120000-children-yemen-are-catastrophic-condition http://www.unicef.org/mena/press-releases/yemens-children-15-million-lives-scarred-and-voices-not-heard http://edition.cnn.com/2018/11/26/middleeast/humanitarian-groups-yemen-plea-intl/index.html http://www1.wfp.org/emergencies/yemen-emergency http://insight.wfp.org/yemen-9d5d0f758cf6 http://insight.wfp.org/of-food-life-and-death-1e696f641d61
Nov. 2018 (UNICEF)
"Millions of desperate children and families across Yemen will soon be without food, clean water or sanitation services because of the deepening economic crisis and unrelenting violence in the port city of Hudaydah. The confluence of these two factors is likely to make the horrific reality facing children and families even worse as more and more war-weary people face the very real prospect of death and disease.
"The cost of food, fuel and water supplies has skyrocketed as the value of the national currency has plummeted.
"Water and sewage treatment services are at risk of collapse because of soaring fuel prices - meaning many of these same children and families may also be without access to safe water and sanitation. This in turn will lead to disease outbreaks and increased malnutrition - both of which, in combination with food insecurity, raise the risk of famine. An estimated 1.2 million more people will soon be in acute need of basic water and sanitation assistance, and the number is expected to climb in the coming days.
Families who can no longer afford basic food items could soon join the 18.5 million people who are already food insecure - a number projected to rise by 3.5 million, including nearly 1.8 million children.
"These conditions, devastating in their own right, are compounded by the situation in Hudaydah where violence threatens to kill children and choke off an essential supply chain of fuel and humanitarian aid that sustains 28 million Yemenis.
"If the port is attacked, damaged or blocked, an estimated 4 million more children will become food insecure throughout the country.
"The only way out of Yemen''s nightmare is to establish peace through a comprehensive political resolution. Until then, UNICEF continues its call on parties to the conflict and those who have influence over them to abide by their legal obligations to stop attacks against civilian infrastructure - including the port of Hudaydah - and guarantee safe, unconditional and sustained access to all children in need in Yemen."
“People in Yemen face two horrifying menaces: war and hunger. Civilians have paid the heaviest price for the conflict. Millions are displaced and millions go to bed hungry every night,” said Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC’s regional director for the Near and Middle East.
An ICRC team in Hodeida this week spoke of dreadful living conditions for many thousands of displaced families who own only the clothes they wear and survive on a little rice or a thin mix of flour and water, if they find any food to eat at all.
The depreciation of the Riyal, reduced imports and difficulty of movement in the country have had alarming repercussions on the country’s already catastrophic humanitarian situation.
Indebted and vulnerable, millions across Yemen survive on one meal per day. “Every day many Yemeni families must choose between food and medicine,” Carboni said.
The cost of living has skyrocketed. Prices for flour, sugar, rice and milk have increased by 30 percent since last month and surpass the modest budgets of most Yemeni families, whose savings have been depleted by long years of conflict.
Clean water and medication are also a luxury in Yemen, where vital infrastructure is crumbling, a fact that has led to an increase in infectious diseases such as cholera and measles.
According to the World Food Programme 08.11.18: "Yemen is the largest hunger crisis in the world. Millions of people are living on the edge of famine and the situation is getting worse by the day".
21 Nov. 2018
Urgent need to reach hundreds of thousands of severely malnourished children before it’s too late, warns Save the Children
An estimated 85,000 children under five have died from extreme hunger or disease since the war in Yemen escalated, according to new analysis by Save the Children.
Using data compiled by the UN, Save the Children evaluated mortality rates for untreated cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in children under five years. Using a conservative estimate, the humanitarian aid agency discovered that approximately 84,701 children with SAM may have died between April 2015 and October 2018.
After almost four years since the brutal conflict in Yemen escalated the UN says that up to 14 million people are at risk of famine. That number has increased dramatically since the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition imposed a month-long blockade of Yemen just over a year ago.
Since then, commercial imports of food through Hodeidah port have reduced by more than 55,000 metric tonnes a month. That’s enough to meet the needs of 4.4 million people, including 2.2 million children. Any further decline in imports could likely lead directly to famine.
Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s Country Director in Yemen, said: “We are horrified that some 85,000 children in Yemen may have died because of extreme hunger since the war began. For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death and it’s entirely preventable.
“Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop. Their immune systems are so weak they are more prone to infections with some too frail to even cry. Parents are having to witness their children wasting away, unable to do anything about it.
“Save the Children has provided food for 140,000 children and treated more than 78,000 children for malnutrition since the start of the crisis. Despite the challenges, we’re saving lives every day.”
Fighting, blockades and bureaucracy have forced Save the Children to bring vital supplies for the north of the country through the southern port of Aden. As a result, it can take up to three weeks for aid to reach people instead of the week it would take if Hodeidah port was fully operational.
Save the Children has also observed a dramatic increase in airstrikes on Hodeidah over recent weeks. Increased fighting has also been reported in Taiz, Saada and Sanaa.
Tamer Kirolos added: “In the past few weeks there have been hundreds of airstrikes in and around Hodeidah, endangering the lives of an estimated 150,000 children still trapped in the city. Save the Children is calling for an immediate end to the fighting so no more lives are lost.
“We urgently need to get high-nutrient foods to the most vulnerable children in Yemen, some of whom are truly on the brink. One child dying from starvation is one child too many.”
http://www.savethechildren.net/article/yemen-85000-children-may-have-died-starvation-start-war http://bit.ly/2AhYG56 http://www.unicef.org/press-releases/living-hell-children-unicef-regional-director-geert-cappelaere-remarks-situation http://bit.ly/2SQvNEm http://bit.ly/2PPNjcV http://bit.ly/2PncfsT http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/35-organizations-call-immediate-ceasefire-yemen http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemen-prospects-peace-do-not-excuse-violations-hodeida-battle http://theelders.org/article/elders-call-un-security-council-take-urgent-credible-action-lift-yemen-blockade http://www.msf.org/yemen http://www.icrc.org/en/document/yemen-political-solution-needed-end-intense-suffering-yemeni-families http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemen-final-call http://fews.net/east-africa/yemen/alert/october-24-2018 http://bit.ly/2QHEJui http://fews.net/ http://reliefweb.int/topics/fighting-famine-nigeria-somalia-south-sudan-and-yemen http://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/operations/yemen http://www.ochayemen.org/hpc/
* 23 Oct. 2018: Briefing by Mr. Mark Lowcock, Emergency Relief Coordinator (OCHA) to UN Security Council, on the humanitarian situation in Yemen, and impending famine - UN WebTV: http://bit.ly/2Ap3NAl http://bit.ly/2F0Kz8I http://www.wfp.org/videos/archive
15 Oct 2018
UN warns that famine could overwhelm country in next three months, with 13 million people at risk of starvation.
Yemen could be facing the worst famine in 100 years if airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition are not halted, the UN has warned.
If war continues, famine could engulf the country in the next three months, with 12 to 13 million civilians at risk of starvation, according to Lise Grande, the agency’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen.
She told the BBC: “I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that it was unthinkable that we could see a famine like we saw in Ethiopia, that was just unacceptable.
“Many of us had the confidence that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at.”
Yemen has been in the grip of a bloody civil war for three years after Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, seized much of the country, including the capital, Sana’a. The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the rebels since 2015.
Thousands of civilians have been caught in the middle, trapped by minefields and barrages of mortars and airstrikes. The resulting humanitarian catastrophe has seen at least 10,000 people killed and millions displaced.
Speaking on Sunday evening, Grande said: “There’s no question we should be ashamed, and we should, every day that we wake up, renew our commitment to do everything possible to help the people that are suffering and end the conflict.”
Her comments came after the UN and humanitarian workers condemned an airstrike in which the Saudi-led coalition targeted Yemen’s Shia rebels, killing at least 15 people near the port city of Hodeidah. Video footage showed the remains of a mangled minibus littered with groceries following the attack on Saturday, which left 20 others injured.
“The United Nations agencies working in Yemen unequivocally condemn the attack on civilians and extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims,” said Grande.
She added: “Under international humanitarian law, parties to the conflict are obliged to respect the principles of precaution, proportionality and distinction. Belligerents must do everything possible to protect civilians not hurt, maim, injure or kill them.”
Hodeidah, with its key port installations that bring in UN and other humanitarian aid, has become the centre of Yemen’s conflict, with ground troops allied to the coalition struggling to drive out the rebels controlling it.
The killing and maiming of civilians including many children in the Red Sea city of has soared in the last three months according to aid workers. Since June more than 170 people have been killed and at least 1,700 have been injured Hodeidah province, with more than 425,000 people forced to flee their homes.
A Gulf coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has been trying to wrestle back control of the strategic port city.
The ongoing conflict threatens to throw Yemen into outright famine.
Last month Save the Children warned the fighting was turning into a “war on children” with thousands suffering life-changing injuries in the attacks.
On a visit to Yemen the charity’s CEO, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, warned attacks on schools and hospitals were on the rise, with children on the frontline of violence and medics unable to cope with the influx of the wounded.
Meanwhile the country’s currency has collapsed and food prices have doubled in the last month, fuelling the threat of famine.
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/oct/15/yemen-on-brink-worst-famine-100-years-un http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/attacks-kill-civilians-are-no-longer-anomaly-yemen-s-war http://reliefweb.int/country/yem
15 Oct 2018
Imminent famine in Yemen. (Norwegian Refugee Council)
Statement by Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council:
"Civilians in Yemen are not starving, they are being starved. Let it be known that the worst famine on our watch is wholly manmade by Yemen''s local conflict parties and their international sponsors.
Yemen has long been bombarded with airstrikes and subjected to strangling tactics of war. Mass starvation is a deadly byproduct of actions taken by warring parties and the western nations propping them up. The way the war is waged has systematically choked civilians by making less food available and affordable to millions of people.
Humanitarians are losing the battle against famine because the only way to reverse this fatal trend is a political solution to the current stalemate. It is still possible to avert a historical-scale famine if action is taken this month. It would be unforgivable if the US, UK, France and Iran do not demand the following:
First, an immediate ceasefire that includes an end to air-raids and shelling by all sides.
Second, agreement from warring factions to sit down at the table and agree on a political solution through UN mediation.
Third, the implementation of measures that will rapidly revive Yemen''s economy and allow the free flow of civilian imports and humanitarian aid into and across Yemen.
Parties to this conflict already have blood on their hands and now risk bearing responsibility for a famine affecting millions."
Sep. 19, 2018 (Save the Children)
An additional one million severely food insecure children in Yemen risk falling into famine as families struggle to afford basic food and transport to health facilities for treatment. This brings the total number of children in Yemen at risk of famine to 5.2 million. Already, more than two-thirds (64.5 per cent) of Yemen’s population don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
As Hodeidah experiences renewed fighting there is a real risk its port – a vital lifeline for goods and aid for 80 per cent of Yemen’s population – could be damaged or temporarily closed, reducing the supply of available of food and fuel as well as driving up prices even further. This would put the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in immediate danger while pushing millions more into famine. The United Nations has warned that failure to keep food, fuel and aid flowing into Yemen, particularly through Hodeidah, could result in one of the worst hunger crises in living history.
A depreciating currency and collapsing economy are pushing communities to the brink of starvation.
Food prices are up by an average of 68 per cent since 2015. The Yemeni Rial (YER) has depreciated nearly 180 per cent in the same period. It now costs 600 YER to buy one US dollar, up from 215 YER when the conflict escalated more than three years ago. The price of fuel commodities like petrol, diesel and cooking gas has increased by 25 per cent between November last year and September 2018. The price of food has doubled in some parts of the country in just a matter of days.
Though there are food supplies in the marketplace for now, families are unable to afford even the most basic items like bread, milk or eggs, making an already precarious situation even worse. Our teams have heard that some households are being forced to make impossible choices like deciding to take a malnourished baby to hospital at the expense of feeding the rest of the family.
Dr Ali, Save the Children’s Nutrition Adviser in Amran, Yemen, said:
“I’ve noticed people’s deteriorating financial situation as it’s very common that parents don’t bring their children to health facilities to get treatment, simply because they can’t afford the transport costs. People haven’t received salaries for years and they don’t have another source of income, so they simply don’t have the money to get their children to hospital.”
A recent UN survey of 2,098 respondents across Yemen confirms the extent of the problem. An alarming 98 per cent of households said food was their primary expenditure. Equally alarming, 93 per cent named high commodity prices as their primary challenge, including food and fuel, while 72 per cent of households said they’re cutting down on food consumption to cope with a lack of income.
Nutrition surveys conducted during the first half of 2018 confirm alarming rates of malnutrition. In Hodeidah for example, home to Yemen’s largest commercial port and the primary gateway for food and fuel to the rest of the country, one in every twenty children under five years is suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Half of all children in Yemen are stunted.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, said:
“The nutrition crisis in Yemen has serious implications. Millions of children don’t know when or if their next meal will come. In one hospital I visited in north Yemen, the babies were too weak to cry, their bodies exhausted by hunger. This could be any hospital in Yemen.
Severely malnourished children are 12 times more likely to die from preventable diseases like pneumonia, measles, cholera or diphtheria. Children who are stunted suffer physical and often irreversible long-term cognitive damage. It’s essential that children get the food they need to survive and thrive.”
What happens in Hodeidah has a direct impact on children and families right across Yemen. Even the smallest disruption to food, fuel and aid supplies through its vital port could mean death for hundreds of thousands of malnourished children unable to get the food they need to stay alive. It could drive up the price of fuel – and as a result transport – to such an extent that families can’t even afford to take their sick children to hospital.
“This war risks killing an entire generation of Yemen’s children who face multiple threats, from bombs to hunger to preventable diseases like cholera. All parties must agree a political solution to this conflict and give children hope of a brighter future. Let the immense suffering of children in Yemen end.”
The brutal conflict in Yemen means communities across the country face huge barriers that prevent them from seeking care for their sick and undernourished children, including financial obstacles. The root causes of chronic and acute malnutrition and the factors leading to it are complex. But the current conflict creates conditions where malnutrition can take hold, exacerbated by poverty, lack of access to aid and low socioeconomic status. Women and girls and boys suffer disproportionately.
http://www.savethechildren.net/article/yemen-further-one-million-children-risk-famine-food-and-fuel-prices-soar-across-country http://www.actionagainsthunger.org/story/yemen-worlds-worst-humanitarian-crisis-worsens http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/briefing-security-council-humanitarian-situation-yemen-under-secretary-general http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/currency-crisis-yemen-driving-millions-people-one-step-closer-famine-enar http://twitter.com/OCHAYemen http://www.unocha.org/draft-yemen/about-yemen/crisis-overview
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