Ceasefire in Hodeidah, Yemen on verge of failing as clashes continue
by International Rescue Committee, agencies
3:50pm 31st Jan, 2019
14 Feb 2019
Yemen: 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview Report from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Country Team in Yemen
NEEDS AND KEY FIGURES
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains the worst in the world. Nearly four years of conflict and severe economic decline are driving the country to the brink of famine and exacerbating needs in all sectors. An estimated 80 per cent of the population – 24 million people – require some form of humanitarian or protection assistance, including 14.3 million who are in acute need. Severity of needs is deepening, with the number of people in acute need a staggering 27 per cent higher than last year.
Two-thirds of all districts in the country are already pre-famine, and one-third face a convergence of multiple acute vulnerabilities. The escalation of the conflict since March 2015 has dramatically aggravated the protection crisis in which millions face risks to their safety and basic rights.
KEY HUMANITARIAN ISSUES
1. Basic survival needs
More than 20 million people across the country are food insecure, including nearly 10 million who are suffering from extreme levels of hunger. For the first time, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) has confirmed pockets of catastrophic hunger in some locations, with 238,000 people affected. An estimated 7.4 million people require services to treat or prevent malnutrition, including 3.2 million people who require treatment for acute malnutrition – 2 million children under 5 and more than one million pregnant and lactating women (PLW).
A total of 17.8 million people lack access to safe water and sanitation, and 19.7 million people lack access to adequate healthcare. Poor sanitation and waterborne diseases, including cholera, left hundreds of thousands of people ill last year. In sum, needs have intensified across all sectors.
Millions of Yemenis are hungrier, sicker and more vulnerable than a year ago, pushing an ever-greater number of people into reliance on humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian response is increasingly becoming the only lifeline for millions of Yemenis.
2. Protection of Civilians
Yemen is facing a severe protection crisis, and civilians face serious risks to their safety, well-being and basic rights. Tens of thousands of people have been killed or injured since 2015, and among them at least 17,700 civilians as verified by the UN. An estimated 3.3 million people remain displaced, up from 2.2 million last year. This includes 685,000 people who fled fighting in Al Hudaydah and on the west coast from June onwards.
Escalating conflict is causing extensive damage to public and civilian infrastructure. Intensity of conflict is directly related to severity of needs. Humanitarian needs are most acute in governorates that have been most affected by conflict, including Taizz, Al Hudaydah and Sa’ada governorates. More than 60 per cent of people in these governorates are in acute need of humanitarian assistance.
3. Livelihoods and essential basic services
The Yemeni economy is on the verge of collapse. The economy has contracted by about 50 per cent since conflict escalated in March 2015. Employment and income opportunities have significantly diminished. Exchange rate volatility – including unprecedented depreciation of the Yemeni Rial (YER) between August and October 2018 – further undermined households’ purchasing power. Basic services and the institutions that provide them are collapsing, placing enormous pressure on the humanitarian response.
The fiscal deficit since the last quarter of 2016 has led to major gaps in the operational budgets of basic services and erratic salary payments – severely compromising peoples’ access to basic services. Only 51 per cent of health facilities are fully functional.
More than a quarter of all children are out of school, and civil servants and pensioners in northern Yemen have not been paid salaries and bursaries for years. Humanitarian partners have been increasingly stretching to fill some of these gaps to ensure continuity of essential services.
Jan. 29, 2019
The international community, including the US and UK, must step up pressure on warring parties to prevent Stockholm agreements from unraveling.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is extremely concerned by intensifying clashes between warring parties inside Hodeidah city. While fighting inside the critical port city has dramatically decreased since warring parties agreed to a ceasefire at talks in Sweden last December, recent clashes demonstrate the extremely fragile state of the agreement.
The IRC calls on the international community, especially the US and the UK, to capitalize on momentum made at the end of 2018 and pressure all warring parties to end the fighting and abide by the agreements made during peace talks in Stockholm.
The Stockholm agreement was the first diplomatic breakthrough - and first source of hope for the Yemeni people - in nearly four years of fighting. Focused, engaged diplomacy yielded this milestone, and focused, engage diplomacy can save it.
Frank Mc Manus, Yemen Country Director at the International Rescue Committee said:
“Immediately following agreements made in Stockholm, the IRC and other aid agencies saw major improvements in the security situation inside the city, and an increase in access to populations in need. Throughout January, IRC’s mobile health teams have been able to operate in and around Hodeidah, however, in recent days with clashes erupting inside Hodeidah, and both parties accusing each other of violations, the agreement is increasingly in peril.
"The cost of the Hodeidah deal collapsing cannot be overstated. Almost ten million people are on the brink of starvation in Yemen, and fighting in the city and disruptions to imports through the port could propel the country into a full-fledge famine. The ceasefire provides not only the first steps required to address this humanitarian crisis, but also for further political agreements needed to end the war.
The people of Yemen are paying the highest price for a war they do not want and now those with the power to put an end to it must act.
"The end of 2018 and early 2019 saw more diplomatic pressure to end the war than at any point in the four year conflict with the Stockholm agreement and the first UN Security Council resolutions on the crisis in four years. We cannot let this work be for naught.
Those with influence and relationships with the warring parties, including the US, UK, EU and Germany should work to collectively end all fighting inside Hodeidah governorate effective immediately. In Stockholm, warring parties agreed to further talks.
As fighting continues to escalate around Yemen, the IRC calls on the international community to encourage warring parties to return to the negotiating table to save the Hodeidah ceasefire and extend the ceasefire nationwide.
Salaries for public health workers and essential civil servants must be paid and Sana’a airport must be reopened to humanitarian and commercial. Anything less than this will mean the loss of innocent lives and the continued suffering of the Yemeni people.”
Jan. 30, 2019 (Reuters)
A de-mining team came under attack while trying to clear access to grain silos in Yemen''''s port city of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions facing starvation, with both parties to the conflict accusing the other of opening fire late on Tuesday.
The Houthi movement said one of its members was killed when a de-mining team was fired upon by the Saudi-led coalition. The internationally recognised Yemeni government said Houthis fired on a U.N.-backed team trying to reach the mills.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has since September been unable to access the Red Sea Mills, where 51,000 tonnes of U.N. wheat is stored - enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month.
The United Nations was not immediately available for comment. The WFP said it was aware of the reports but declined to comment further.
The grain storage and milling facility is located at a frontline flashpoint on the eastern outskirts of the city. Last week, two silos were damaged by fire caused by suspected mortar shelling.
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