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'Unfathomable pain and suffering' in Yemen

Al Jazeera

United Nations officials have warned that the conflict in the Arab world's poorest nation is intensifying daily, with armed groups expanding, thousands facing the cholera epidemic, and seven million "on the cusp of famine". Speaking before the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, UN special envoy to Yemen, called on all parties "to act for the sake of peace," saying "excuses are unacceptable...especially when the solutions are in plain sight." "The opportunity to reach peace is not yet lost," he said, urging the political leaders to recognise that "the continuation of the war can only lead to more human and physical loss". In the same meeting, UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien said the warring parties and their outside backers should feel "deeply guilty" at driving a worsening conflict that has exposed millions of Yemeni civilians "to unfathomable pain and suffering", including seven million people now "on the cusp of famine." He urged the Security Council to "lean much more heavily and effectively on the parties, and those outside Yemen who are leading this policy and action."


Yemen facing 'total collapse' as fighting continues, UN warns

BBC News

The United Nation's top humanitarian co-ordinator has said Yemen is facing "total social, economic and institutional collapse." Stephen O'Brien was speaking directly to the UN Security Council, telling them "urgent action is required". Yemen is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, with almost seven million people on the brink of famine. An outbreak of cholera has also killed 500 people, and the UN expects 150,000 cases in the next six months. Mr O'Brien said the suffering of Yemenis was not a coincidence, or the "result of forces beyond our control" - but rather the fault of those involved and inaction by world powers.


Yemen faces famine this year threatening 80% of population, U.N. warns

The Japan Times

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations aid chief warned Thursday that Yemen was sliding deeper into humanitarian crisis and could face famine this year. The poor Arab country has been engulfed in war since a Saudi-led coalition launched a bombing campaign in March 2015 to push back Iran-backed Houthi rebels who had seized the capital Sanaa and other cities. "The conflict in Yemen is now the primary driver of the largest food security emergency in the world," Stephen O'Brien, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told the Security Council. "If there is no immediate action, famine is now a possible scenario for 2017." About 14 million people -- nearly 80 percent of the entire Yemeni population -- are in need of food aid, half of whom are severely food insecure, O'Brien said. At least 2 million people need emergency food assistance to survive, he added.


Cholera, Famine and Girls Sold Into Marriage for Food: Yemen's Dire Picture

NYT > Middle East

He also blamed the Houthis. "The people of Yemen are being subjected to deprivation, disease and death as the world watches," he said. Mr. O'Brien also implored the Saudis to avoid an attack on Hodeidah, the only port in Yemen that can still handle shiploads of food and medicine. Virtually all of the basic needs in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, must be imported. Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have vowed to crush the Houthis, seeing them as proxies for Iran's influence in the region.


UN rules out taking control of Sanaa airport

Al Jazeera

The UN has indicated is not responsible for controlling Yemen's main airport, dismissing a call by a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition for the world body to do so. The Saudi-led coalition, fighting in Yemen, asked the UN on Thursday to take control of the airport in the capital Sanaa, which is in the territory controlled by the rival Houthi fighters, Saudi state news agency SPA reported. The coalition said it was ready to allow the reopening of the airport on the condition that the UN provided support for airport security. It said the airport remained closed "due to concerns for the safety of civilian travel and commercial flights, as well as the smuggling of weapons by the Houthis". On Friday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric called on the rival sides to allow humanitarian aid access, including through Sanaa airport, which has been closed to all but limited UN flights for a year.