Hundreds of civilians were killed and thousands displaced in Yemen over the past month, and conflict continues to escalate, while aid is coming short.
Escalating military action in Yemen has left the Arab world’s poorest nation facing growing hunger and economic collapse with no political solution in sight.
More than 15,000 people were displaced over the past month, and more than 350 civilians were killed or injured in December, senior UN officials said on Wednesday.
In the seventh year of conflict, the warring parties seem to be seeking military victory, UN special envoy Hans Grundberg told the UN Security Council.
“There is no sustainable long-term solution to be found on the battlefield” and both sides must talk even if they are not ready to lay down their arms, he added.
358 civilians were reportedly killed or injured in December, “a figure that is tied for the highest in three years,” Ramesh Rajasingham, the UN’s deputy humanitarian chief, said.
"An escalatory cycle"
“We appear to once more be entering an escalatory cycle with predictable devastating implications for civilians and for the immediate prospects of peace,” Grundberg told the council.
Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are pressing their assault on the key city of Marib, the last government stronghold in northern Yemen, Grundberg said, as he expressed concern that battles could intensify on other fronts.
There is already renewed fighting in the southern province of Shabwa. Elsewhere, airstrikes have increased and fighting continues along dozens of front lines, as attacks have increased on neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
He also called accusations that ports in mainly Houthi-controlled Hodaida - a lifeline for delivering aid, food and fuel to the country - are being militarised “worrying.”
Moreover, programs providing food, water, protection for civilians and reproductive health services were forced to scale back or even close due to funding shortages in 2021, Rajasingham said.
Last year’s UN appeal for about $3.9 billion to help 16 million people was only 58 percent funded, the lowest level since 2015, and UN expects this year’s aid operation to need roughly as much money.
Rajaingham urged donors to sustain and if possible increase their support this year, while especially calling on the Houthis to improve access for humanitarian staff and to stop attempts to interfere with their work.
While humanitarian aid is essential, Rajasingham stressed that the biggest drivers of people’s needs are economic collapse accelerated by conflict.
Humanitarian needs could be reduced by a resumption of foreign exchange injections through the Central Bank, and policy decisions to lift import restrictions, Rajasingham added.