In the Harat Al-Masna’a slum in Sana’a, Yemen, a man walks with his three-year-old daughter which sits next to a former textile factory and hosts 231 families of former factory workers. Photo: Giles Clarke for UNOCHA
10 October 2017
Parties to the conflict in Yemen are eroding the path to peace while the country’s people suffer amid a man-made humanitarian catastrophe, said today a senior United Nations official, urging Security Council member countries to use their political and economic powers to pressure warring sides to commit to a path of peace.
“In Yemen, there are no winners on the battlefield. The losers are the Yemeni people who suffer by this war,” stated Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Yemen, briefing the Security Council.
“The people [of Yemen] are getting poorer while influential leaders get richer. They are not interested in finding solutions, as they will lose their power and control in a settlement,” he warned.
Noting that an agreement on securing humanitarian access remains essential, it cannot replace a solution which is a part of a larger comprehensive peace deal, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed explained that he has had meetings with both Yemeni and international officials and that he is discussing a proposal that includes humanitarian initiatives to rebuild trust as well as bringing the parties back to the negotiations table.
“We hope this commitment will translate into action and deepen their engagement with me on the basis of these initiatives in order to reach a peaceful political solution,” he said, noting that the UN will continue to utilize all its political, logistical, administrative, and advisory facilities to support the country but only the warring parties could bring peace.
“They are accountable for a failure. I reiterate that the only viable path for the future of Yemen is a negotiated settlement,” he added.
Also briefing the Security Council today, John Ging, the Director of Operations at the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the relief plan for the country continues is still short of funds.
The $2.3 billion Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan to reach 12 million people in need of humanitarian support and protection this year has received only 55 per cent of the resources needed.
“Despite the complexity of the response, this year, humanitarians have already reached seven million people with direct assistance. We therefore encourage [UN] Member States to directly support our efforts and to do more through the response plan,” said the UN relief official.
In his briefing, Mr. Ging also called for an urgent resumption commercial flights at Sana’a airport as well as imports into the country.
“Any significant decline in imports due to bureaucratic delays risks making the threat of famine a reality,” he warned.
The conflict in the country, now into its third year, has rendered 17 million Yemenis food insecure and over a third of the country’s district in severe danger of famine.
Furthermore, destruction of infrastructure and breakdown of public services, especially water and sanitation systems, has resulted in a devastating cholera outbreak, which has already killed more than 2,100 individuals and continues to infect thousands each week.