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Yemen on the brink

FT News

11:24 min | 3 years ago

Yemen on the brink

"We're looking at the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The US this week called for peace talks to begin within a month to end hostilities depicted a Saudi led coalition against who rebels a Middle East correspondent spoke to lease grandba- the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Yemen about how bad the crisis is. I want needs to be done to stave off a catastrophic famine. We know the UN has already warned that there is a risk of a big famine in Yemen, like half of Yemen is are at risk of big famine. How bad is the situation right now out of the entire population? In Gaiman more than fifty percent, close to sixty percent of all the people in the country are food insecure. That means that they're struggling to support their families out of the eighteen million. Who we classify as being food insecure? There are eight and a half million people right now who when they wake up in the morning, they have no idea where they will find their next meal, or if they will have won a we have warned that he's conditions. Do not improve improve very quickly. We think another five and a half. Maybe even five point six million more people will be in those pre-famine conditions. And this is why the United Nations last week invoke secured. The council resolution twenty four seventeen which obliges the UN to warn the members of the Security Council when we think that there is a conflict related famine. And we took that step last week that demonstrates how seriously the UN regards this crisis as the UN conjugate futon if free single month, the United Nations World Food program, his distributing food to eight million people the work that they are doing with the frontline NGOs is absolutely heroin. Now, we know that because conditions are deteriorating. So quickly that we have to do even more. Now, I'll admit to you that the operation in Yemen. It's the largest in the world. That's also one of the most difficult operations were working under dangerous, very complex conditions. It's going to be hard for us to continue to scale up. We are committed to doing. So we know that literally millions of lives are at stake and millions of people depend on the United Nations to. Do what is necessary is there enough food in the country? But people don't have access to it or there's just no food. We characterize this as an income famine. And what that means is that what is driving the famine our economic conditions, many destitute families, simply do not have the money that they need to buy the things that they acquire in the market. There's also the problem of the importers ninety percent of all food in Yemen is actually brought into the country. It's imported well for importers to do what they have to do they require foreign currency. And there is a severe shortage of that in Yemen. And that's one of the factors that is driving the depreciation of the currency. And that is limiting the ability of importers to bring in the foodstuffs that will keep people alive. One of the reasons the UN came out last week and said, we are facing pre-famine conditions in Yemen is because the value of the real has depreciated so quickly and to such an extent. That tens of thousands of families. Just can't afford any more what they need and the real depreciates heave him by just a few times, literally tens of thousands of families are thrown out of the market, and they have no option for food except us do militias grab the food. Or once the food is out there. You're able to distribute the food operation that we're running in Yemen is being done under extremely difficult conditions. Now, we bring in hundreds of thousands of metric tons of food, and then it is transported to the areas of the country where people are most at risk. We then use partners on the ground in order to distribute that food now, it's the responsibility of the UN to do everything we can to make sure that the food reaches the people who need it when we know the food isn't getting to the right place. It's our top to take steps, and we do recently in a very hard hit area. We halt. The operation until we were able to get in place the parameters that were necessary to get the food where it had to go. So a militia was not allowing this food to reach people will he was thirties on the ground who wanted the U N to use a certain partner, and that partner just didn't have the track record and didn't have the capacity to do the job the way it needed to be done. And so we insisted that the partner, which we knew could do that work was the one that was chosen you'll this is something that the UN does everywhere we have an obligation to the donors were accountable to the people to do things the right way. And that's why we will sometimes take steps to say, no, we can't go forward with his operation until the right conditions are in place. What is the situation with sports because presumably the food is Shipton what's happening in holiday, then other ports. So the port of data, and that's just north of there solid. These are crucial ports that we described them as the lifeline for. Northern naming eighty to ninety percent of everything northern game and needs comes through these two ports. And because most of the population in Yemen is in the northern part of the country. The ports are just disproportionately important announce why it's been so important throughout the entire conflict that those ports stay open their functioning now, even as fighting escalated in who data starting in June, all in the last three months, those ports of remained open in the UN is continuing to bring food and we've made the point in. We've made it a strongly as we can that. If those ports close even for just a few days the impact will be immediate. And it will be catastrophic. They are the lifeline for millions of people and the coalition were blockading the port is that no longer the case. Now, the ports are open, and we have received commitments from all of the parties to the conflict that they will stay open if they closed millions of lives are at the line. Obviously, it would be great. If a political solution could be reached that would solve problems. But in the short term to avert this famine, what are the steps because the famine is being driven by economic factors. The key to stopping the spread pre-famine conditions is to stop the depreciation of the currency. Stop inflation, make sure that shippers half the foreign currency that they need. So they can bring in the food that people depend on. We also have to make sure that families have income that they're part of public works program. So that they're earning income that they can spend on the market, and those really are the constellation of factors that have to be in place. So this situation doesn't deteriorate further. The how can you stop the depreciation of the real in practical terms, it's very clear that the government of Yemen, and the central Bank of Gaiman really they played the decisive role here if the government of Yemen is able to inject liquidity. Into the economy. So that importers have the money that they need to bring in the shipments. This is gonna make a huge difference. We've also made the point the impetus need the lines of credit, and this is something the central Bank knish you right now these are two steps which would make a huge difference. We know that the government of game and is deeply committed to looking at these issues to solving them. The point that the UN is making is the time to solve them as now that's why we went to the Security Council last week and said Yaman is facing up famine that Khun Gulf the country and be one of the largest in recent memory. We've made that alert and we're hoping that everyone steps forward and find solutions so that the people of aim and have a chance for the future. So this is the government and the central Bank in Aden. That are protected by the coalition. Well, certainly the government of Yemen and the central Bank based in Aden. They're the ones that play the. Sisa fall. They're the ones that are responsible for monetary policy. And because this is an income famine everything depends upon the handling of the currency the handling of monetary policy. That's why they're role is so crucial. Just now the food that you are able to distribute is that enough to sustain people the United Nations provides a supplemental ration, so it will keep you alive, but not over the medium to long term. It's a supplemental emergency food ration. That means that if you're destitute, and you have absolutely no way of surviving except on you in food. You cannot do that for the medium-term. And this is one of the things we're most worried about in Yemen. There have been literally millions of people who have had no other source of food men the UN for several years now, and these people will they are in terrible trouble. Their immune cycles are breaking. Down. These are the people that we worry the most about right now. Our children already dying of starvation. It's very clear that there are millions of children that are malnourished across the country seven million people are malnourished and three million of those are children. If you go to many of the hospitals in the therapeutic feeding centers on the mound nutrition centres, which you see breaks, your heart. It absolutely is devastating to see young boys and young girls that don't have a chance. They're starving to death. We see it every day. You get the impression that the world is not paying enough attention to Yemen. His very clear that the crisis in Yemen is one of the most dramatic and deeply warring crisis in the world, the UN characterizes what's happening in Yemen has the worst crisis globally. Seventy five percent of the entire population needs some form of assistance, and there's no other country in the world who are higher percentage of the population needs help. If this crisis is not resolved will the consequences be bad. Just full the people of Yemen humanitarian crisis or are there? Other reasons why the words should take notice humanitarian crises are rarely self contained. They have consequences that extend far beyond. I think in the case of game. And what's absolutely clear is that the magnitude of the crisis risked, so many things that we care about you know, when countries breath. Down when they fall apart. But we see our mass migration human trafficking, transboundary, epidemics, the breakdown of law and order creates conditions that allow for the spread of insurgency it can allow for the spread of terrorist groups that have international aspirations and intent it's so important that he Ayman is stable. It's important for the people came in first and foremost, it's important for the region. And it's important for all of us.

Yemen United Nations UN Partner Security Council United States Middle East Aden Coordinator Heroin Ayman Khun Gulf Gaiman