UN: Yemen heading towards humanitarian disaster

Millions in danger after two weeks of war, with UNICEF Yemen chief says many children killed

UN: Yemen heading towards humanitarian disaster

World Bulletin / News Desk

Yemen's conflict is driving an already impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster, displacing tens of thousands of families and exposing many more to the threat of disease andmalnutrition, the United Nations children's agency UNICEF said on Monday.

The Arabian Peninsula's poorest state has endured years of unrest, but nearly two weeks of war between rebel Houthi fighters and pro-government forces - backed by a Saudi-led campaign of air strikes - has put millions of people in danger.

UNICEF's Yemen representative Julien Harneis said "many, many children" had been killed in the fighting. Hospitals have been shelled and schools taken over by combatants.

Fuel shortages threaten to disrupt child immunisation programmes - which need vaccines to be kept refrigerated - and government cash handouts to the poorest third of the population have been suspended.

At the same time the cost of water has risen, as generators pumping the water become more expensive to run, and prices of increasingly scarce food have gone up as people's incomes fall.

The huge displacement of people, with families fleeing the worst-hit cities, also means deteriorating hygiene and sanitation conditions and possible spread of disease.

"We are rushing to a humanitarian disaster," Harneis told Reuters.

UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross are both trying to fly aid shipments into Yemen on Tuesday to start addressing the dire conditions, but say they have struggled to get approval from the Saudi-led coalition and to find planes which will fly into the conflict zone.

"Our main focus is going to be water and sanitation, and medical (aid)," Harneis said by telephone from Jordan.

Last Mod: 06 Nisan 2015, 21:46
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