'End to fighting can't come soon enough' for Yemen, says UN humanitarian chief

WFP trucks loaded with wheat grain, oil and salt are ready to leave for Amran, a hundred kilometres north of Yemen’s capital, Sana'a. Photo: OCHA/Charlotte Cans

24 March 2016 – The United Nations relief chief today welcomed efforts to find a solution to the crisis in Yemen, adding that yesterday's announcement of an agreement to cease hostilities on 10 April is “positive.”

“An end to the fighting can't come soon enough for the civilians caught between the warring parties,” said the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordination, Stephen O'Brien, in a statement.

“There are horrifying reports of human rights violations. Over 2.4 million Yemenis - a tenth of the population – have been forced from their homes. Children cannot go to school, mothers cannot get medical care, businesses have closed,” he warned.

During the past year of fighting, thousands of civilians have been killed and injured due to the bombing or shelling of schools, hospitals and markets. “The stark numbers and awful stories do not stay in the headlines, however. Other major world crises attract greater attention – among donors, governments, the media,” Mr. O'Brien regretted.

Meanwhile, United Nations humanitarian agencies and their partners have continued to try and reach people across the country with aid and protection. The humanitarian chief noted that despite the “dangerous environment” and lack of funding, aid agencies are delivering food with nearly three million people reached in February. Last year four million children were vaccinated against measles and polio, and every month fuel is provided to pump water for over three million people.

“We need to be able to reach anyone who needs aid, across Yemen, whoever and wherever they are,” Mr. O'Brien stated. “The UN and partners continue to call on all parties and their allies to make sure people are able to move freely and safely and that aid organizations can safely deliver critical supplies.”

In addition to security, he said “sustained and generous” donor support is needed. “Humanitarian needs have increased since last year, with 20 million people needing emergency food, water, healthcare and shelter in 2016. Humanitarian action can only temporarily alleviate human suffering. The people of Yemen want lasting peace and security now so that they can rebuild their lives and safely raise their families,” he insisted.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

UN Envoy for Yemen announces cessation of hostilities and start date for peace talks

Related Stories

In-depth Interviews