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Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Afghanistan, Yemen

22 Jun 2022

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Hundreds of people have been killed and injured following the deadly earthquake in Afghanistan today. Photo credit: IOM

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights –   22 June 2022

Afghanistan

Earthquake

Following the deadly earthquake in Afghanistan earlier today [0130 local time], we have a statement by the Secretary-General: I was saddened to hear of the tragic loss of life caused by the earthquake which struck Afghanistan earlier today near the city of Khost. Hundreds of people have reportedly been killed and injured, and this tragic toll might continue to rise.

My heart goes out to the people of Afghanistan who are already reeling from the impact of years of conflict, economic hardship and hunger. I convey my deep condolences to the families of the victims and wish speedy recovery to the injured. The United Nations in Afghanistan is fully mobilized. Our teams are already on the ground assessing the needs and providing initial support. We count on the international community to help support the hundreds of families hit by this latest disaster. Now is the time for solidarity.

Humanitarian response

Numbers are expected to rise as search and rescue operations continue. Humanitarian partners are supporting response efforts in hardest-hit Paktika and Khost provinces in coordination with the de-facto authorities.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and several non-governmental organizations are deploying mobile health teams, medicines and medical equipment to Paktika and Khost provinces and mobilizing additional medical supplies. WHO has delivered 100 cartons of emergency medicine to the districts of Barmal and Giyan in Patkika. Inter-agency joint needs assessments will be carried out in both districts in the coming days.

The UN Children’s Fund has deployed at least 12 teams of health workers to worst-hit Giyan district in Patkika Province, and several mobile health and nutrition teams to Barmal district also in Paktika and Spera district in Khost Province.

The de facto authorities are responding, including with  search and rescue efforts, but heavy rain and wind are hampering efforts with helicopters reportedly unable to land this afternoon [local time]. Those whose homes have been damaged or destroyed are seeking shelter with family and friends, with some reportedly living in the open. De facto authorities have delivered food and emergency tents to some of these families, but more assistance is required.

Given the unseasonable, heavy rains and cold, emergency shelter is an immediate priority. Other immediate needs include emergency trauma care, non-food items, food assistance and water and sanitation hygiene support.

Yemen

Aid cuts

OCHA reports that aid agencies remain concerned that the humanitarian crisis will deteriorate sharply in the coming months largely due to economic problems, including a weaker currency and higher prices due to the Ukraine war. 

Yemen’s 2022 humanitarian response plan is only 26 per cent funded forcing essential programmes to reduce or close down altogether. This puts millions of lives at risk. Our humanitarian colleagues warn that the aid cuts – which are impacting all sectors - will also undermine prospects for further political progress, after all the hard work that went into agreeing and extending the recent truce.
 
Unrest and insecurity are already mounting in some areas due to long-standing frustrations over currency depreciation, rising commodity prices, lack of services and jobs, decreasing aid and other issues.

We urge all donors to increase their contributions to the Yemen response plan right away to avoid further deterioration.

We also welcome the Senior Officials Meeting on Yemen taking place in Brussels today and tomorrow, co-hosted by Sweden and the European Commission. This meeting is an important opportunity for donors and agencies to strategize on the major challenges facing the Yemen response, including under-funding, access problems, and insecurity.

Examples of aid cuts

Food security

Hunger is now at the highest point since conflict escalated in 2015. More than 19 million people are going hungry, including more than 160,000 who are facing catastrophic conditions on the verge of famine.

Last December, WFP had to reduce rations for 8 million people due to funding gaps. In June, WFP was forced to introduce another round of cuts, meaning 5 million people will now receive less than less than half of their daily requirement, and 8 million people will receive less than one-third of their daily requirement.

Nutrition

More than 8 million women and children in Yemen need nutrition assistance, including 538,000 severely malnourished children.

By July, UNICEF may have to stop treatment for more than 50,000 severely malnourished children. These children will then be at much greater risk of death. Already, WFP has had to suspend nutrition assistance for 3 million moderately malnourished children and mothers.

Water and sanitation

Access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene services in Yemen is limited by conflict-induced infrastructure damage, climate change and natural hazards such as floods and economic conditions.

By July, UNICEF will suspend assistance that enables access to safer water and sanitation for up to 3.6 million people. Water quality monitoring and chlorination of water sources will also stop, affecting access to drinking water for 4.6 million people.

Mine action

Landmines and other explosive remnants of war have been the largest cause of civilian casualties in Yemen during the truce period. By July, UNICEF will cut in half mine risk education activities, putting 2 million children and their families at greater risk of mine-related injuries and deaths.

By August, the Yemen Executive Mine Action Centre will likely lack the resources needed for landmine survey and clearance operations. These operations improve safety of local communities and are a precursor to humanitarian relief.

IDPs, refugees and migrants

More than 4 million people in Yemen are currently internally displaced. These families are four times more likely to experience food insecurity than the broader population.

By July, UNHCR will reduce cash assistance, shelter and basic relief items for 150,000 displaced people across 18 governorates. Financial support to cover rental costs will also be suspended for over 100,000 people who live in precarious shelter situations. 

By July, UNHCR will also have to significantly reduce cash assistance, health provision and access to protection services for some of the most vulnerable among the 97,000 refugees and asylumseekers presently living in Yemen.

Agencies will also stop providing rapid relief packages – including food, hygiene items and cash assistance – to families fleeing their homes. More than 37,000 people fled their homes this year and benefited from these packages within 72 hours.

Health

Yemen’s public health system has been devastated by the conflict, with many services non-functional or only partially functional. By July, UNICEF will suspend maternal and child health services through facilities currently benefiting up to 2.5 million children and 100,000 women.