[08/February/2017] NRC Secretary General warns of famine spreading in Yemen
SANA'A, Feb. 08 (Saba) – Secretary-General of Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Jan Egeland, on Wednesday warned of famine spreading in Yemen, unless the conflict is ended and the deep economic crisis and aid shortage is reversed.
“In Yemen, if bombs don’t kill you, a slow and painful death by starvation is now an increasing threat,” said Egeland in a statement issued by the council in conjunction with the start of a donor conference for Yemen.
The statement pointed out that the NCR, over the last years, managed to respond rapidly to needs on the ground, but unless the financial commitments match the response, it will not be able to reach the most vulnerable.
"Last year’s appeal was only 58 per cent funded, limiting our overall response substantially," the statement said.
The statement appealed to international donors to step up the funding, and also to apply all the pressure possible on the involved parties to secure peace and a revival of Yemen’s economy.
"Two years since the conflict escalated in Yemen, more than 17 million Yemenis do not know if they will be able to put food on the table to feed their families", the NCR warned in its statement, adding that a total of 462,000 children are at immediate risk of death from severe malnutrition.
The statement stated that nearly 2.2 million displaced Yemenis face a number of hardships, including lack of access to water, healthcare, shelter, education and a basic income.
It noted that 75 per cent of the displaced identify food as their top priority among all these aid, illustrating the immediate and desperate need, a daily struggle for survival.
“It is crucial that all restrictions on aid are lifted so that we are able to deliver life-saving services throughout Yemen," Egeland said, urging all parties to the conflict in Yemen to allow free and clear access to humanitarian agencies, as is required under International Humanitarian Law.
The statement pointed out that the de-facto blockade on imports, imposed by the Saudi-led coalition, has had a devastating impact on the Yemeni economy, and public sector health workers and teachers do not get their salaries, while the private sector is collapsing in a country dependent on imports for 90 per cent of its food.
The blockade, the violence and restrictions to humanitarian access on the ground, as well as the continued destruction of civilian infrastructure in violation of humanitarian law, is turning Yemen into a country where an entire population soon will be dependent on assistance, according to the statement.