UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien called war-wracked Yemen “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world,” with two-thirds of the population, or 18.8 million people — three million more than in January — in need of assistance and more than seven million with no regular access to food.
The conflict in Yemen has left more than 7,400 people dead and 40,000 wounded since a US-backed, Saudi-led coalition intervened on the government’s side against rebels in March 2015, according to UN figures.
In just the past two months alone, more than 48,000 people have fled fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country, according to O’Brien, as it grapples with a proxy war fought by archrivals Iran and Saudi Arabia.
“The humanitarian suffering that we see in Yemen today is caused by the parties and proxies and if they don’t change their behavior now, they must be held accountable for the inevitable famine, unnecessary deaths and associated amplification in suffering that will follow,” said O’Brien.
“Yet all parties to the conflict are arbitrarily denying sustained humanitarian access and politicize aid,” he added.
A total of $2.1 billion are needed to reach 12 million people with life-saving assistance and protection in Yemen this year, according to O’Brien, who noted that just six percent of those funds have been received so far. He announced that a ministerial-level pledging event for Yemen will take place in Geneva on April 25, to be chaired by UN chief Antonio Guterres.