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Yemen: highest emergency response level declared for six months

01 Jul 2015


School in Sana'a hosting some 200 displaced people, mostly from Saada governorate. Credit: OCHA/Charlotte Cans, June 2015
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After more than three months of escalating conflict, UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien declared the Level 3 emergency response, the global humanitarian system's classification for the most large-scale crises.

The heads of UN agencies, international NGOs and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement met today to discuss the activation of the Level 3 emergency response for Yemen – the global humanitarian system's classification for the response to the most severe, large-scale humanitarian crises.

At the meeting, convened by Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien, all agencies agreed to declare the Inter-Agency Standing Committee system-wide L3 for a period of six months, with an interim review in September.

Since the violence in Yemen escalated in March over 3,083 people have been killed and 14,324 have been injured, while over one million people have had to flee their homes. Three months into the conflict escalation, more than 21.1 million people – 4 in 5 Yemenis – now need some form of humanitarian assistance.

Of those, 11.7 million are targeted for assistance in the latest Humanitarian Response Plan. That is, provided that aid groups receive the US $1.4 billion required to carry out the planned and much-needed life-saving operations.

Nearly 13 million people live in food insecurity. Some 20.4 million are in need of assistance to access water/sanitation - of these, 9.4 million had their access to water cut or severely disrupted as a result of fuel shortages. This severely increases the risk of outbreaks of water-borne diseases including cholera.

There are reports of dengue fever and malaria in the south and areas bordering Saudi Arabia. The health system is facing imminent collapse with the closure of at least 160 health facilities due to insecurity and lack of fuel or other critical supplies.

Despite this grim context, humanitarians are scaling up operations and the UN and its partners have been able to reach some 4.4 million people with life-saving aid in the past three months: 1.87 million people received food assistance; 3.3 million people received water, sanitation and hygiene services ; 880,000 people were reached with health care supplies.

However, it is clear that the needs these numbers only represent a fraction of the needs, and access to the affected populations remains a crippling challenge.

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, Amer Daoudi, and the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Johannes Van Der Klaauw, have called for an urgent new humanitarian pause to help alleviate the suffering of millions of families.