“Yemen has lost more than two decades of development and is certainly one of the poorest countries, if not the poorest in the world today,” warned the director of the United Nations Development Program in Yemen.
The devastating war risks making Yemen a “non-viable state” and “very difficult to rebuild,” a senior UN official warned on February 28, 2021, on the eve of an international donor conference aimed at avoiding a large-scale famine.
The conflict in Yemen has left tens of thousands dead, millions displaced while millions more go hungry. After more than six years of war, this poor country on the Arabian Peninsula is experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the UN. The country’s economy has collapsed, its health system has collapsed and countless children remain deprived of an education, some having even been recruited to fight.
“The war must end now. The Yemenis have suffered enough, ”insists Auke Lootsma, director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Yemen. The country is now facing “the world’s worst development crisis,” he said, urging donors to quickly provide substantial financial assistance at a virtual conference co-hosted on March 1 by the UN , Switzerland and Sweden.
“Yemen has lost more than two decades of development and is certainly one of the poorest countries, if not the poorest in the world today, given the negative development indicators we are seeing,” warns Auke Lootsma. “If we continue like this, Yemen will be a very difficult country to rebuild. If other assets are destroyed and people get poorer and poorer, then the country will become almost like an unsustainable state, ”he adds.
The war in Yemen pits the forces of the internationally recognized government, supported by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, against the Houthi rebels. Supported by Iran, the latter seized most of the north of the country, including the capital Sanaa in 2014.
With the global economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, funding for humanitarian aid was seriously lacking in Yemen in 2020. The UN hopes to raise some 3.85 billion dollars (about 3.18 billion dollars) on Monday. euros) from donors. Last year, it received just $ 1.9 billion, half the amount needed to help two-thirds of the 29 million people in need.
400,000 children under five could die of malnutrition
“The international community should come together around Yemen and make a lot of pledges that will help us prevent widespread famine,” insists Auke Lootsma. According to him, in 2020, UNDP had to prioritize certain programs and reduce the number of beneficiaries.
“Yemenis are not really able to afford a minimum food basket or a minimum food supply that gives enough food to a household to survive the day,” said the UN official.
According to the UN, more than 16 million Yemenis, or about half of the population, will face hunger this year. Almost 50,000 of them are already in conditions close to famine and some 400,000 children under five could die of acute malnutrition.