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."
The United Nations on Friday demanded that all parties in war-torn Yemen grant civilian and commercial access to the country's ports and airports. "Today, millions of people in Yemen are facing a triple tragedy: the spectre of famine, the world's largest ever single-year cholera outbreak, and the daily deprivation and injustice of a brutal conflict that the world is allowing to drag on and on," said Stephen O'Brien, the under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs. "I renew my call ... to address the following points: ensure that all ports - land, sea and air - are open to civilian - including commercial - traffic," O'Brien said, adding that the airport in the capital Sanaa should be opened "immediately" to humanitarian aid. READ MORE: Satirical shows lighten the mood amid Yemen's war The airport is held by the rebel Houthi fighters who also control the rest of the capital, but airspace over Yemen is dominated by the rival Saudi-led Arab coalition, which is helping the Yemeni government fight the Iran-linked Shia rebels. O'Brien also called on all the parties in the conflict "to respect international humanitarian and human rights law" by protecting civilians and infrastructure.
It has been expanding at an alarming rate in Yemen for the past month, from a few thousand cases to roughly 70,000. Unicef, also known as the United Nations Children's Fund, has provided clean water to roughly one million people, rehydration kits and other medicine to help fight the outbreak. Mr. Cappelaere said Unicef was calculating that without significant intervention, "within a few weeks' time" the number of Yemen cases could reach 250,000 to 300,000. Earlier this week the top relief official of the United Nations, Stephen O'Brien, told the Security Council that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen had been largely man-made.
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.