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Yemen to remain the world largest humanitarian crisis in 2020: UN official

16 Jan 2020


Humanitarian partners continue to provide aid in Yemen despite enormous challenges. credit: OCHA/Matteo Minasi

Yemen will remain the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in 2020, Ramesh Rajasingham, Director of OCHA’s Coordination Division, told United Nations Security Council members on 16 January.

“We are doing everything we can to mitigate the impact of this crisis, including adding new programmes to boost the incomes of families facing famine conditions,” he said in the briefing.

Yemen, Rajasingham said, was “on the whole less dangerous for civilians than it was before the Stockholm Agreement a year ago.”  Civilian casualties in 2019 were about 35 per cent lower than the previous year, and civilian fatalities are down by almost half.

Yet, Yemen remained a “very dangerous place.” Reports of civilians killed or injured are received every day. Critical infrastructure and aid workers have also come under attack.

Despite the challenges, Rajasingham said the aid community is still able to deliver the world’s largest aid programme in Yemen. 

Food assistance to more than 12 million people is provided every month across the country. With support from humanitarian agencies, 7 million people can access drinking water. Some 1.2 million medical consultations take place every month, and more than 2,000 health facilities are receiving support.

In 2019, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provided a generous grant of US$500 million for humanitarian action carried out by UN agencies. This funding has enabled UN agencies to scale up its work in averting famine, supporting protection, and treating cholera, among other life-saving activities. So far it has supported 4.6 million vulnerable people, and this number is set to rise.