UN warns of mass famine in Yemen ahead of relief aid donor conference

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
3 min read

A UN humanitarian agency on Sunday warned that more than 16 million people in Yemen would go hungry this year, with already some half a million people in the war-torn country living in famine-like conditions.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, said the risk of large-scale famine in the Arab world’s poorest country “has never been more acute,” adding that the years-long conflict, economic decline, and institutional collapse created enormous humanitarian needs in all sectors.

The stark warning comes a day before a pledging conference co-hosted by Sweden and Switzerland. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will appeal for $3.85 billion in relief aid for Yemen this year.

The response to the UN appeal is unlikely to meet expectations, given that the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating consequences hit economies around the globe.

Yemen’s war started in 2014 when the Houthi rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, and much of the country’s north. The Arab Coalition intervened months later to restore the internationally-recognized government. The conflict has killed some 130,000 people and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

A boy pushes a wheelbarrow with girls on it at a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Marib, Yemen October 2, 2020. (Reuters)
A boy pushes a wheelbarrow with girls on it at a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Marib, Yemen October 2, 2020. (Reuters)

Monday’s pledging conference comes as the Iranian-backed Houthis renewed their offensive on the central province of Marib, stoking fears of a new humanitarian crisis in a region that hosts the largest displaced population in the country, according to local authorities.

The province, the location of the ancient Great Marib Dam, has served as a sort of haven for around 1 million Yemenis who have fled Houthi offensives since the start of the war, according to UN figures.

The rebels have renewed their attacks on the oil-rich province, a holdout against them, but have faced stiff resistance and heavy airstrikes from the Arab Coalition. Hundreds, mostly Houthis, have died in the fighting.

OCHA said the fighting in Marib has displaced more than 8,000 civilian people, particularly from the district of Sirwah, which hosts around 30,000 displaced people in at least 14 camps. Sirwah has seen the heaviest fighting, it said.

The agency warned about possible displacement of another 380,000 people if fighting reached the actual city of Marib, capital of the province, where camps for displaced people are already crowded.

In the port city of Hodeida, meanwhile, an overnight explosion hit a residential area in al-Hawal district, killing at least five civilians and wounding three others, the UN mission in the strategic city said Sunday.

The mission, known as UNMHA, did not say what caused the explosion or which party was behind it.

Read more:

More than 60 killed in Yemen as Iran-backed Houthi militia continues offensive

Houthis target Marib residential area with ballistic missile

Arab Coalition stops second Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia hours after failed attempt

Top Content Trending