Yemen plagued by unabated war, COVID-19 and insufficient aid

UNHCR camp welcoming IDPs in Yemen UNHCR camp welcoming IDPs in Yemen OCHA / Philippe Kropf

17 September 2020

Amid spikes in conflict violence, COVID-19 out of control and the spectre of a famine looming large, Yemen is a living nightmare

In recent weeks, violence ascribed to the five-year long conflict ravaging Yemen has spiked. UN Humanitarian affairs chief Mark Lowcock noted that the number of active front lines in Yemen has grown to 43 from 33 in January, and cities coming under assault are pushing many to flee insecure areas. 

Since its inception, the conflict between the Saudi-backed coalition supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels formally known as Ansar Allah has continued unabated bringing with it disastrous consequences for the civilian population. According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), 112,000 people have died as a result of the conflict, including over 12,600 civilians killed in targeted attacks. 

The tragedy unfolding in Yemen, where nearly 80% of the population requires humanitarian aid and protection, is further exacerbated by the rapid spread of the COVID-19. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) revealed that to date the virus was deadly to one out of four locals contracting it, hence displaying a mortality rate in Yemen that exceeds the global average by five times. Years of unrelenting hostilities have halved functioning health facilities and brought the conflict-battered economy in tatters, making a state-administered response to the pandemic next to impossible. 

Moreover, while the spectre of an incumbent famine looms large over Yemen, the several international donors are hesitant to commit to their pledge for 2020. Persisting obstruction campaigns against international aid in Yemen and restricted access to humanitarian assistance due to COVID-19 pushed donors to commit just $1,35 billions, while the UN sets $2,41 billions as fundraising target for its Yemen Interim Country Strategic Plan.

Continuing to hold back money from the humanitarian response now will be a death sentence for many families” said Lowcock, calling on all donors to pay their pledges and increase their funding.


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Author: Gianmarco Italia; Editor: Barbara Caltabiano

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