Martin Griffiths, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief has spoken on the need to “open the Sanaa international airport to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to more than 5 million Yemenis living one step away from famine”.
Griffiths warned a session of the UN permanent Security Council, based in New York, that “The war grinds on (…) including the devastating Ansar Allah offensive in Marib and clashes along nearly 50 other front lines.”
“Hostilities this year have so far reportedly killed or injured more than 1,200 civilians. Institutions and public services have imploded, depriving people of clean water, of sanitation, education, health care, and helping to spread diseases like cholera and COVID-19”, Griffiths continued.
“More than 20 million people in Yemen need humanitarian assistance and protection. That’s about two-thirds of the population.”
“There is perhaps one overarching humanitarian priority: and that is to stop the famine. Today, about 5 million people are just one step away from succumbing to famine”, Griffiths said.
“Ten million more are right behind them.”
Griffiths emphasized that “Sana’a airport should also be re-opened – at least for the thousands of civilians to travel abroad for medical care.”
For seven years, Yemen has seen a war take the lives of more than 233,000 people. 30 million Yemenis, or around 80% of the population, remain dependent on aid, in what is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis according to the UN.
The conflict is made more complex due to the involvement of regional powers. Since March 2015, an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been conducting military operations in defence of the government against the Iran-backed Houthis, who control a number of governorates around the capital Sana’a.