UNICEF makes urgent plea for funding amid Yemen humanitarian crisis

Ahram Online , AP , Saturday 25 Mar 2023

Nearly 11 million children in Yemen are in need of humanitarian assistance after eight years of conflict and without urgent action, millions could face ever greater risks of hunger and malnourishment, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Friday.

Yemen hunger
File Photo: Displaced children at a settlement in Mokha, Yemen. (Photo courtesy of UN)


"The lives of millions of vulnerable children in Yemen remain at risk due to the almost unimaginable, unbearable, consequences of the crushing, unending war," Peter Hawkins, UNICEF's representative in Yemen, said.

The conflict began in 2015 when Houthi militias clashed with the internationally-recognised government, displacing millions and destroying essential services and infrastructure.

Since 2015, more than 2.3 million children have been displaced, 11,000 killed or seriously injured and over 4,000 recruited by warring parties, UNICEF reports.

There have also been over 900 attacks on education and health facilities.

UNICEF urgently requires $484 million to continue its life-saving humanitarian response for children in Yemen in 2023, Hawkins said, emphasising the need for all parties to commit to helping the Yemeni people.

“After eight years, many children and families feel stuck in a perpetual cycle of hopelessness,” Hawkins said, adding that for many parents, the only thing that has changed is their children’s faces.

“Children have grown up knowing little but conflict, providing these children with some room for hope of a peaceful future is absolutely critical.” 

The Houthi rebels said they were imposing severe restrictions starting Saturday on U.N. and other humanitarian flights arriving in the capital, Sanaa.

The Civil Aviation Authority said no humanitarian flights would land in Sanaa between March 25-30. It said in a statement they would allow such flights in Sanaa only on Fridays.

The Houthis said their decision was in response to an alleged barring of commercial flights to and from the Yemeni capital, and a ban of booking flights from Sanaa.

The Sanaa International Airport was partly reopened for commercial fights last year as part of a U.N.-brokered cease-fire deal between Yemen’s warring parties. The cease-fire expired in October when the two sides failed to reach a compromise to renew the truce.

The move comes amid an escalation in fighting in the central province of Marib, where the Houthi rebels in recent days attacked government-held areas.

The escalation comes after Iran and Saudi Arabia reached an agreement earlier this month to restore bilateral relations, reviving hopes of a political settlement to Yemen’s conflict, where the two regional powerhouses support opposing sides.

Yemen’s war erupted in 2014, when the Houthis seized Sanaa and forced the government into exile in Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict in March 2015 to try restoring the internationally recognized government to power.

The Houthi restrictions on humanitarian flights is likely to exaggerate the suffering of Yemenis in Houthi-held areas, including the capital.

More than 21 million people in Yemen, or two-thirds of the country’s population, need help and protection, according to the U.N.

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