UN Resident Coordinator Blog – Global Issue

People are desperate to tell their stories

“I recently went to the west coast of Yemen along a narrow land in the middle of the border, to try to reach families who had not really received humanitarian assistance. People in this area were desperate to tell their stories.

Usually mothers want to tell you how they are struggling to get to school, water, food or hospital for their children. It’s a cry for help, a cry that we need to pay attention to.

At one point, we saw a school that had been destroyed by a mortar attack and the area was contaminated by landmines, so the crops were not being harvested. Drinking water and medical aid were on the other side of the frontline, and people just didn’t feel completely around.


We hear this kind of story over and over again and every two or three days I read reports of other injuries from landmines or unexploded ordnance and it’s usually a child.

Widespread gaps in emergency funds

We were fortunately able to get enough funds to stop the journey towards famine, especially between April and June, but it is fragile and needs to be sustained.

We’ve got about $ 2.1 billion so far, and last week we saw about $ 600 million in additional commitments. So, it brings us a little closer, but we are still less than the total requirement.

There are huge gaps in health, education, water, sanitation, protection assistance for landmines and unexplored ordinances. About 80 to 85 percent of all these areas are under financing.

We have been able to reach out to children at risk of malnutrition, but funding needs to continue until 2022 by the end of this year.

Covid-1 is complicating the pandemic epidemic which is already a very difficult situation. I’ve been to many hospitals on the ground, and I’ve seen how crowded they are. Since the clinics outside the provincial capital are no longer working there is a lack of space and the beds are full. Mothers have been told to move away and move to another province.

So Covid-11 adds that burden on everything else, including many other diseases that affect the Yemeni people.

A one-and-a-half-year-old girl is being treated for malnutrition at a hospital in Yemen.

UNICEF / Saleh Hayan

A one-and-a-half-year-old girl is being treated for malnutrition at a hospital in Yemen.

The UN can make a difference

We need three things right now in Yemen. One is to maintain a humane response and prevent people from starving or suffering from severe malnutrition.

The second is to take a step back and take a look at why this humanitarian catastrophe exists. It is certainly associated with war, but what the war has done is destroyed the economy and lost most of the jobs, so people have no income to buy food. Find an economic perspective to appreciate humanitarian assistance, and ways to unlock the economy and help businesses where they open up, and create jobs and incomes so families can buy their own food.

And of course, the third element we need is a political compromise to end the conflict. However, we do not have to wait for the political settlement to begin. We can do a lot right now, if we can muster the political will.

Eventually it will end. These things always happen at some point or another. My biggest fear at this point is that this conflict will continue. I’ve worked in other countries where this kind of situation has been around for about 20 or 25 years, and it basically transforms the country into a place where it can’t go back to previous social norms and development.

I took this job because I think there is real hope for a change, but now is the time to stop this conflict, before we lose a whole generation of young people who know nothing but war.

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