Statement issued by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres 20 November 2020.
Yemen is now in imminent danger of the worst famine the world has seen for decades. In the absence of immediate action, millions of lives may be lost.
This arises from the combination of a drastic reduction in funding for the UN-coordinated relief operation this year compared to 2018 and 2019, a failure to sustain external support for Yemen’s economy, especially in stabilizing the value of the Yemeni Rial, and the impact of the ongoing conflict and impediments imposed by powerful Yemeni and other parties on the life-saving work of humanitarian agencies. Locusts and floods compound these problems.
I urge all those with influence to act urgently on these issues to stave off catastrophe, and I also request that everyone avoids taking any action that could make the already dire situation even worse.
Failing that, we risk a tragedy not just in the immediate loss of life but with consequences that will reverberate indefinitely into the future.
This statement followed the release of $100 million in emergency funding from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to avert the growing threat of famine across seven countries, including Yemen, deemed most at risk of famine.
Earlier in the month, UN relief chief Mark Lowcock, warned the Security Council that Yemenis were not simply “going hungry”, they were being starved, and all parties to the conflict – between the internationally-recognized Government supported by a Saudi-led coalition, and the opposing Houthi militias which control much of the country including the capital – needed to do everything possible to prevent widespread famine.
“All of us – parties to the conflict, Security Council members, donors, humanitarian organizations and others – should do everything we can to stop this. Time is running out”, Emergency Relief Coordinator and OCHA chief Lowcock told the Council.