Yemenis in trouble as UN shuts down humanitarian programmes

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A child dips his hands into a plastic food container while seated next to a man and other children at a make-shift camp for displaced Yemenis who fled fighting between the Huthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government, in the Abs district of the northwestern Hajjah province on August 17, 2019. (Photo by AHMED/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks away from tents at a makeshift camp for displaced Yemenis who fled fighting between the Huthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government, in the Abs district of the northwestern Hajjah province on August 17, 2019. (Photo by ESSA AHMED / AFP/Getty Images)

The United Nations’ decision to close dozens of humanitarian programs in Yemen could potentially reduce food rations for up to 12 million people with 2.5 million being children.

Many of those children are already malnourished.

Moreover, 19 million people are likely to lose access to health care, including one million women who depend on the UN for reproductive health. Clean water programmes for five million people will be shuttered at the end of October and tens of thousands of displaced families may find themselves homeless.

The UN says that funds pledged by member states to pay for the humanitarian services never materialized.

“We are desperate for the funds that were promised,” said Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. “When money doesn’t come, people die.”

Member states pledged early this year to give the UN and its partners $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis. To date, the UN has only received about half the amount.

Of the 34 major UN humanitarian programs in Yemen, only three are funded for the entire year. Several have closed in recent weeks, and many large-scale projects designed to help destitute, hungry families have been unable to start.

A woman bakes bread at a make-shift camp for displaced Yemenis who fled fighting between the Huthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government.(Photo by ESSA AHMED/AFP/Getty Images)

Another 22 lifesaving programs will close in the next two months unless funding is received.

“All of us are ashamed by the situation”, said Ms. Grande. “It’s heart-breaking to look a family in the eye and say we have no money to help. This is the largest humanitarian operation in the world addressing the worst humanitarian crisis and when we receive funding, we make a huge difference.”

 

 

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