World Bulletin / News Desk
The United Nations on Wednesday launched a record international appeal for $2.1 billion to provide life-saving assistance to 12 million people who have been facing the threat of famine in Yemen this year.
It has been the largest humanitarian appeal ever launched to help 12 million people in Yemen, the UN said in a statement.
“Today more than 18.8 million people that is two thirds of the total population of Yemen – are affected. Immense human suffering is unfolding in front of our eyes caused by conflict compounded by collapsing economy and key public and social institutions are in disarray," Stephen O’Brien, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator said in a news conference in Geneva.
"Yemen is one of the most food insecure countries in the world, a staggering 7.3 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from. If there is no immediate action and despite the ongoing humanitarian efforts, famine is now a real possibility for 2017," O’Brien said.
According to UN, about 10.3 million people are acutely affected and need some form of immediate humanitarian assistance to save and sustain their lives.
O'Brien noted that humanitarian access in Yemen was severely limited due to fighting and bureaucratic impediments.
"3.3 million children, lactating and pregnant women who are in a serious acutely malnourished situation and 460,000 children under the age of five who are suffering severe acute malnutrition," said Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen.
Describing the situation in Yemen as "catastrophic and rapidly deteriorating", McGoldrick said: “What you have now is a situation of a 23 month conflict which has slowed down the ability for people to have a productive capacity."
Yemen fell into civil war in 2014 after the Houthis and their allies overran capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing members of the Saudi-backed government to temporarily flee to Riyadh.
The following year, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a major air campaign aimed at reversing Houthi military gains and shoring up Yemen’s embattled government.