NEW YORK: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday warned that war-torn Yemen “is now in imminent danger of the worst famine the world has seen in decades.”
Guterres’ warning comes as the United States threatens to blacklist the Iranian-allied Houthi militia of Yemen as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran. Aid workers have raised concerns that such a move will prevent vital aid from reaching the country.
“I urge all those who have influence to act urgently on these issues to avoid disaster, and I also call on everyone to avoid taking any measures that could make the already dire situation worse,” said Guterres said in a statement.
An Arab coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015, supporting government forces fighting the Houthis. UN officials are trying to revive peace talks to end the war as the country’s suffering is also exacerbated by an economic and monetary collapse and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Without immediate action, millions of lives could be lost,” Guterres said.
The United Nations describes Yemen as the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, with 80% of people in need of assistance.
A senior Western diplomat said that a designation of the Houthis by the United States designating the Houthis “will certainly not help progress on Yemen.” “They are likely to want to do whatever it takes to increase the pressure on Iran,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said the United Nations had received less than half of what it needed this year – around $ 1.5 billion – for its humanitarian operations in Yemen. Last year he received $ 3 billion.
The Sanaa human rights office said the Houthi militia had committed more than 24,000 violations against children, including killings, kidnappings and recruitments, Al Arabiya reported.
“We call on the international community to protect Yemen’s children from Houthi violations,” the office said.
Meanwhile, Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Jaber has said the Kingdom will resume consular work at the embassy after a suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The ambassador said in a tweet that the move was part of the Kingdom’s initiatives to support the Yemeni people in all governorates to provide them with employment opportunities.
Al-Jaber also said that from mid-2018 to the COVID-19 pandemic, the embassy issued more than 135,000 work visas, which helped them “take care of their families in Yemen and transfer hard currency to support the Yemeni economy ”.