"One of the world's gravest global humanitarian catastrophes" in Yemen has left 19 million people facing hunger this year, including 160,000 likely to face "famine-like conditions," UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths tells UNSC.
The UN humanitarian chief has urged a world focused on Russia's attack on Ukraine not to forget the conflict in Yemen where "one of the world's gravest global humanitarian catastrophes" has left 19 million people facing hunger this year, including 160,000 likely to face "famine-like conditions."
Martin Griffiths on Tuesday told the UN Security Council that Yemen has become what humanitarian officials call a "chronic emergency" that often leads to inertia and donor fatigue.
This must not happen, he said, to the Arab world's poorest country, which has the world's highest percentage of its population in need –– three out of every four Yemenis, or 23.4 million people.
Griffiths, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, spoke on the eve of Wednesday's high-level virtual pledging conference for Yemen hosted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde.
It is seeking nearly $4.3 billion to help more than 17 million people across Yemen this year.
The event "is not just about the money, though that is hugely important," Griffiths said. "It is also an opportunity for the international community to show that we are not giving up on Yemen, even after all these years and with new crises emerging. And that is a very important message."
Griffiths said aid agencies face "alarming and unprecedented funding shortages" that have forced two-thirds of major UN programs to scale down or close in recent months for lack of money.
This has included "deep cuts to core services like food aid, water, health care and relief for people fleeing the violence," he said.
Millions displaced since 2015
Yemen has been convulsed by civil war since 2014, when Iranian-backed Houthi rebels took control of the capital and much of the country's north, forcing the government to flee to the south, then to Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015, backed by the United States and the United Arab Emirates, to try to restore President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his internationally recognised government to power.
Despite a relentless air campaign and ground fighting, the war has deteriorated largely into a stalemate, causing the humanitarian crisis. The US has since suspended its direct involvement in the conflict.
Griffiths said hostilities persist along nearly 50 frontlines, including in the strategic, energy-rich central city of Marib where a two-year Houthi offensive continues, and in western Hajjah "where clashes have escalated sharply in recent weeks."
Last year, he said, more than 2,500 civilians were killed or wounded in hostilities that forced nearly 300,000 people to flee their homes. That leaves 4.3 million people displaced in Yemen since 2015, he said.