Yemen humanitarian aid reaching ‘breaking point’: WFP
Considered to be the world’s largest humanitarian crisis by the United Nations, Yemen has almost 14 million people at risk of starvation amid the rising global health emergency. Adding to woes of the war-torn country, World Food Programme (WFP) in its latest report indicated that humanitarian aid projects to Yemen are reaching a “breaking point”.
In the report, the UN body maintained that around $870 million financial aid is needed for continued assistance to millions of vulnerable Yemenis for the next six months. This statement has come weeks after the UNHCR stated that around 80% of the Yemeni population is in need of humanitarian assistance amidst the dual battle between a prolonging war and COVID-19 pandemic.
UNHCR projects which are facing major risk include cash-assistance programs for internally displaced and impoverished local communities.
With this scheme, eligible families are given financial aid of around $170 each in instalments for over six months which enables them to pay for rent, food, medicine, and other necessities. If funding is stopped for this scheme, around 1 million people will be facing the risk of survival in the country. Similarly, many such UN initiatives provide security to millions of Yemenis who will come under a potential existential crisis.
International donors started cutting funding for assistance to the country earlier this year due to Houthi obstruction which has added to the concerns of the government. The Yemen humanitarian fund received only 27% of its total aid this year indicating that foreign donors have not yet fulfilled their 2020 funding pledges. In 2020, pledges have critically gone down with only US$800 million in pledges compared with $2.6 billion which was pledged in 2019.
Due to the increased restrictions by the Houthis’, several donor governments have also suspended their funding to the north since the beginning of 2020. Taking note of the ongoing situation, the UN also reportedly pulled out over half its remaining international staff from Yemen’s capital in a bid to protect them.During a press conference, WFP senior spokesperson noted that a large population of Yemeni children is being pushed towards acute malnutrition due to increasing food insecurity. While Yemen has reported 255 COVID-19 infected cases so far, the already fragile public health care system of the country is on the brink of collapse due to lack of medical supplies and facilities such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ventilators for treatment of patients.
One of the most impoverished countries in the Arab world, Yemen has been ravaged by civil war between the Saudi-backed internationally recognized government based in Aden and its Iran-backed rivals the Houthis based in the North, since 2015. Suppressed between the two sides, thousands of civilians have been killed during hundreds of attacks between both rival sides. It has also resulted in massive destruction of infrastructural property including residential homes, schools, hospitals, and markets.