Dear Foreign Secretary
I am writing to you on behalf of the United Nations Association London and South East Region out of extreme concern for the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
In 2017, 16m were in need humanitarian assistance, now there are 24m – 80% of the population. 10 million children do not have access to basic healthcare.
Two million children under the age of five are malnourished. Of them, 325,000 have severe, acute malnutrition. Every day more than 100 children die from starvation or disease.
More than 20 million people in Yemen do not have reliable access to food and almost 10 million people face extreme food shortages.
The Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Sir Mark Lowcock, reported that “COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across Yemen and about 25% of the country’s confirmed cases have died — five times the global average.” The World Health Organisation suggests over 70,000 could die.
The UN is facing an unprecedented funding crisis. Donors have cut their funding pledges by 50%. The UN is very rapidly running out of money for humanitarian relief. As a result, 75% of UN-funded programmes, from food to health care and nutrition, have shut their doors or reduced operations. The World Food Program has cut rations in half and UN-funded health services were reduced in nearly 200 hospitals nationwide. The number of people the UN agencies are able to feed has dropped from 13 million to 8 million.
Sir Mark said, “The world has a simple, straightforward choice. You can either resume funding the Yemeni operation and save millions of lives, or alternatively watch as the country simply falls off the cliff. The world needs to wake up and decide whether it’s willing to let millions of children simply lose their lives or whether it is to step up, and, as is still possible, prevent a huge tragedy.”
I urge you to act on Yemen. Please:
- Immediately release the funding with have already pledged to the UN for humanitarian aid. (currently only 30% has been transferred).
- Increase our funding to at least match last years contribution of $261m (this year’s pledge is $196m). We are a rich nation well able to help the poorest.
- Lobby our allies and the Saudis, Kuwait and the UAE to increase humanitarian funding to the UN.
- Help broker a ceasefire by engaging with the Houthis to seek a path to peace that meets reasonable demands, such as the opening of Sana’a International Airport (with inspections for arms imports) and moving UN inspections to Hodeidah port. Last year the then Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, met with Houthi representatives.
- Urge the Saudis to end their partial blockade of ports, repeat their offer of a unilateral ceasefire (sadly previously rejected by the Houthis) and cease their bombing of civilian areas.
- Demand that the Houthis stop laying land mines, their missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and their military advance to the north east.
- Stop arms sales the Saudis and urge them to end their partial blockade of ports, repeat their offer of a unilateral ceasefire (sadly previously rejected by the Houthis) and cease their bombing of civilian areas.
Patricia Shepheard Rogers
Chair, United Nations Association, London and South East Region
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