UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Yemen’s economy is collapsing, its humanitarian crisis worsening, and conflict in the Arab world’s poorest nation is becoming more violent, the UN’s deputy humanitarian chief said on Thursday.
This serious remark came from Assistant Secretary-General Ramesh Rajasingham during a briefing at the United Nations Security Council. More than 20 million Yemenis – two-thirds of the population – are in need of humanitarian aid, but aid agencies said, “once again, running out of money has begun.”
Rajasingham said aid agencies are now helping around 13 million people across the country, about three million more than a few months ago. “Our best assessment is that this expansion has significantly pushed back the immediate risk of massive famine.”
Read more: 16 million Yemenis heading towards starvation due to war, says UN
But he warned that aid agencies do not have enough funds to move forward on this scale and that “in the coming weeks and months, up to 4 million people could see their food aid shrink” and “by the end of the year.” , this number could rise to 5 million people.”
“We are calling on everyone to do everything possible to maintain the momentum we have built over the past several months and keep the famine at bay,” he said.
Yemen has been engulfed by civil war since 2014 when Iran-backed Houthi rebels captured the capital of Sanaa and most of the northern part of the country, forcing the internationally recognized government to flee south, then Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015, backed by the United States, to attempt to restore President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power, and throw its support behind his government. Despite a relentless air campaign and ground fighting, the war has largely turned into a standstill and led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The US has since suspended its direct participation in the conflict.
In early 2020, the Houthis launched an offensive in most of the government-held Marib province, killing thousands of young people and leaving thousands of displaced civilians to live and relocate in constant fear of violence.
On Thursday, tribal leaders and Yemeni officials said at least 140 fighters from both sides were killed in fighting in Marib in the past 24 hours. He said the conflict was taking place in the districts of Abdiya and Al-Jubah.
At a Security Council briefing, Rajasingham said the Houthis “intensified their brutal offensive in Marib, taking more territory there and neighboring parts of the southern province of Shabwa.
He pointed to clashes earlier this month between rival armed groups in the southern city of Aden – where the Houthis forced them out of Sanaa and north after Hadi’s government set up headquarters – and in north-west Saada and western Fighting, shelling and airstrikes continued. Hajjah and Hodeida provinces “and about 50 others along the front lines.”
In September, 235 civilians were killed or injured, the second highest figure in two years, and fighting in Marib is taking “a particularly heavy civilian toll”, with nearly 10,000 people displaced in September, the second highest in two years. The figure, Rajasingham said.
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The new UN special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, who took office last month, told the council that he had held meetings with government and Houthi officials, as well as key regional and international officials, focused on how to move towards a political solution. To restore peace in Yemen
“The trust gap between the warring parties is widening and growing,” he said in a virtual briefing.
Grundberg said he made clear that while progress must be made on urgent humanitarian and economic issues, immediate political dialogue without preconditions is necessary to resolve the conflict.
“Let’s not fool ourselves, it will be a laborious and complicated task that will take time but it has to be,” Grundberg said. “The past weeks have illustrated the tension between the pace of war and the economic collapse on the one hand and the time needed to move forward and consult on a viable way out on the other.”
Rajasingham reiterated that Yemen’s economic collapse is “meeting most needs in the country – including the threat of famine.”
Yemen imports almost everything, he said, and the Yemeni rial is trading about 1,270 riyals against the dollar in Aden, about six times more than it was before the war, and fewer goods reach the country’s ports. Used to be. Commercial food imports at the major ports of Hodeida and Salif were down 8% in September from last year’s average, and “fuel imports were down an alarming 64%,” he said.
He urged immediate steps to avert the country’s economic collapse, including the injection of foreign exchange through the Central Bank, which would bring down prices sharply, as they had done in the past, as well as completely closing all ports. Opening, removal of import restrictions in Hodeida and Salif, and payment of salaries of civil servants.
Associated Press writer Ahmed Al-Hajj in Sanaa, Yemen contributed to this report.