The UN has announced plans to launch a $2.1 billion international appeal this year to help some 12 million people in Yemen who are suffering from a disastrous humanitarian crisis arising from the country’s two-year civil war.
Around 10,000 people have been killed in the war, 2,000 of whom are children, according to the UN’s latest figures. Some 10.3 million Yemenis are also said to be in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.
“Two years of war have devastated Yemen and millions of children, women and men desperately need our help,” the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday.
“Without international support, they may face the threat of famine in the course of 2017 and I urge donors to sustain and increase their support to our collective response,” he said.
The conflict between Houthi militias and forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi began in 2014. A Saudi-led coalition mounted a military campaign against the rebels in March 2015 as insurgents closed in on Hadi’s place of refuge in the southern city of Aden and forced him to seek exile in Riyadh.
Loyalists have since driven rebels out of five southern provinces, including Aden, but the war has ruined Yemen’s economy and caused mass food shortages.
Gulf Arab countries say the Houthis are a proxy for their arch-rival Iran, a charge Tehran denies.
Last year, a number of humanitarian hubs were established in the cities of Aden, Al Hudaydah, Ibb, Sana’a, and Sa’ada to assist some 5.6 million people with direct humanitarian aid with the cooperation of 120 UN agencies and non-governmental organisations.
But millions across Yemen are still in dire need.
A report published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) states that nearly 3.3 million people, including 2.1 million children, are “acutely malnourished.” Around 500,000 of those children are under 5 years old, Reuters reported.
The report further adds that 2 million people remain “internally displaced” in the country.
“We remain committed to the principle that our plans must be grounded both in evidence and actual capacity, and I ask donors today to help Yemen in its moment of great need,” the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said.