UN warns of worsening famine threat in Yemen; Houthis plunder resources

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NEW YORK —

The UN Security Council warned on Friday during an emergency session on Yemen that the fight against famine is being lost in the war-ravaged country.

The session was called upon by the British envoy to the UN Karen Pierce.

For her part, US Ambassador Nikki Haley who chaired the session said: “All of us support the efforts of Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to find ways to reduce the violence and return to talks. The tragedy that is building in Yemen is almost beyond comprehension.”

The Permanent Representative of Yemen to the UN Ahmed Bin Mubarak said that the suffering — of thousands of Yemeni families in areas under the control of the pro-Iranian Houthi militias — is due to the fact that the bread earners of these families are either in Houthi prisons or because the militias confiscate 70 percent of the state’s resources leaving these families with no incomes.

Mubarak added during the session that the pro-Iranian militias has reached a climax in its coup against the legitimate government and destroying the state’s institutions.

In the same context, Kuwait envoy to the UN Mansour Al-Outaibi held the Houthi militias responsible for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen due to the militias’ obstruction of the political process, the disruption of negotiations and ignoring international resolutions.

The Kuwaiti envoy added that Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock’s awareness of the bleak humanitarian situation in the country points to the dire situation in Yemen and Hodeidah in particular because of the Houthi militias.

Mubarak confirmed that the Yemeni legitimate forces backed by the Arab coalition blocked the main road between Sanaa and Hodeidah in coordination with the UN organizations after informing them of a substitute road to deliver humanitarian relief aids from Hodeidah to Sanaa.

For his part the UN humanitarian chief warned that the fight against famine is being lost in Yemen, which is already facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with 75 percent of its 29 million people in need of assistance.

Mark Lowcock called the situation “bleak” and told the Security Council it “has deteriorated in an alarming way in recent weeks.”

“We may now be approaching a tipping point, beyond which it will be impossible to prevent massive loss of life as a result of widespread famine across the country,” he said. “We are already seeing pockets of famine-like conditions, including cases where people are eating leaves.”

Lowcock said that during the first six months of this year, the United Nations and humanitarian groups provided assistance to more than 8 million of the most vulnerable Yemenis who don’t know where their next meal will come. That is a dramatic expansion from 2017, when food was reaching 3 million people a month.

Lowcock thanked all donor countries, including Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Countries, pointing out that the threat to the relief operations in Yemen is the deterioration of the currency.

He urged the Security Council to press for immediate measures to stabilize Yemen’s economy and support the exchange rate, including ensuring liquidity for the central bank and implementing longstanding commitments to pay salaries of teachers, doctors, health workers and other public service employees throughout the country.

Lowcock also urged that ports be kept open, warning that “the lifeline through which the aid operation runs now hangs by a thread.”

He called for the protection of civilians, schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, the establishment of “an air bridge” for medical evacuations and serious negotiations on “a positive path towards peace.”

He stressed that the Arab coalition supporting the legitimate government in Yemen provided protection for relief workers in the country, saying: “I would like to point out here that this relief operation would not have been successful without the intensive efforts of the coalition to provide safe areas. We were briefing officials in Riyadh on the relief operations and they provided protection for humanitarian workers.”

Fuel crisis

The pro-Iranian Houthi militias continue to hold more than 200 oil tankers in the province of Yemen’s Al-Bayda, more than a week after coming from Marib, preventing their arrival in Sanaa and areas under their control, causing a severe fuel crisis in those areas

Relief aids looted

For his part, Abdullah Al-Rabiah, the General Supervisor of the King Salman Center for Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) said the center succeeded in delivering humanitarian and relief assistance to most of Yemen’s regions. “We continue to work with all success,” he said.

Rabiah added at the second humanitarian press conference for the coalition countries supporting the legitimacy of relief efforts in Hodeidah, which was held on Friday in the Saudi capital Riyadh with the presence of Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for International Development Affairs in the UAE Sultan Al-Shamsi, That the humanitarian assistance provided by the coalition in Yemen faced looting, confiscation and destruction by the Houthi militias, where statistics showed that from 2015 to 2017, 65 aid ships, 124 relief convoys and 628 aid trucks for accidents were confiscated and looted by the Houthi militias.

He said about 19 vessels carrying 200,000 tons of oil derivatives were authorized by the coalition to enter the port of Hodeidah, but were detained by the Houthi militias for more than 26 days. — Al Arabiya English

All of us support the efforts of Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to find ways to reduce the violence and return to talks. The tragedy that is building in Yemen is almost beyond comprehension.

Nikki Haley

US Ambassador to the UN


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