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IASC principals issue joint statement on the humanitarian situation in Yemen

28 May 2020


Food distribribution in Qatabah District, Aldhalea Governorate, Yemen, 13 April 2020. Credit: MFD/Elyas Alwazir

In a joint statement issued today, the principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee – the highest humanitarian forum of UN and international non-governmental organizations – expressed alarm about the situation in Yemen, as COVID-19 is spreading rapidly amid unabated conflict and lack of funding for humanitarian programmes.

Against a backdrop of mounting humanitarian needs, official COVID-19 case figures as of 27 May stand at 253 cases and 50 deaths. But as in many other countries, testing kits in Yemen are in short supply, and official reports are lagging far behind actual infections.

More than five years of war have devastated Yemen’s health infrastructure, subjected Yemenis to repeated disease outbreaks and malnutrition, and substantially increased vulnerabilities.

The principals said humanitarian agencies are responding to the pandemic including by scaling up public health measures; actively promoting personal hygiene and physical distancing; mobilizing life-saving supplies and equipment; and maintaining essential health and humanitarian services.

COVID-19 rapid response teams, supported by aid agencies, are working to establish isolation units at 59 hospitals across the country. Nearly a quarter of a million personal protective items have been procured, with additional supplies in the pipeline, while some 9,500 front-line COVID-19 health workers will be supported.

Humanitarian agencies also reached 16 million people in the first half of May with information they need to protect themselves and their families.

In addition to the COVID-19 response, aid agencies in Yemen are still delivering the world’s largest relief operation, assisting more than 10 million people every month.

The principals indicated that of 41 major UN programmes in Yemen, more than 30 will close in the next few weeks if additional funds are not secured. It is estimated that aid agencies will need up to US$2.4 billion to cover essential activities from June through December, including programmes to counter COVID-19. They called donors to pledge generously and pay pledges promptly. 

The senior officials called for the cessation of hostilities across Yemen in order to address the ever-mounting humanitarian needs.

The IASC is chaired by the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock.