The United Nations is appealing for $2.1 billion to provide life-saving assistance to 12 million people in desperate need of help in conflict-ridden Yemen in 2017.
This is the largest consolidated appeal for Yemen since the Saudi Arabian coalition began bombing the country March 26, 2015 in support of the government in its battle against the Houthi rebels.
U.N. officials say the amount of money needed is a symptom of the humanitarian crisis facing this war-torn country. They say airstrikes have demolished bridges, key roads, entire neighborhoods, and ports, leaving millions of people without electricity, water and food.
U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien says nearly 19 million people, or two-thirds of Yemen’s population, need humanitarian assistance.
“Immense human suffering is unfolding in front of our eyes caused by conflict, compounded by a collapsing economy and key public and social institutions are in disarray,” O’Brien said. “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.”
O’Brien says malnutrition is rising at an alarming rate. He says nearly 3.3 million people, including 2.1 million children are acutely malnourished. He says he was shocked by the condition of the people he saw when he last visited Yemen a few months ago.
“Children and youth were stunted and severely malnourished, barely holding on to their lives and that was five months ago,” O’Brien said. “Since then, the situation in Yemen has just simply got worse … In 2016, we were able to reach over 5.6 million people and this year, as is pretty clear from the numbers, we must reach even more.”
Humanitarian chief O’Brien warns famine is a real possibility in Yemen this year, if the resources needed to head-off this catastrophic situation are not urgently forthcoming.