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Yemen: As thousands flee fighting, a call for de-escalation

12 Mar 2020

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Children account for one in four civilian casualties in the ongoing conflict in Yemen. Credit: Mahmoud Fadel-YPN/OCHA

With the intensification of conflict in Yemen, the UN’s acting deputy humanitarian relief coordinator (DERC), Ramesh Rajasingham, has reiterated a call for all parties to “freeze military activities” and urged them to work towards de-escalation.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by reported air strikes in Al Hazm District, which has been hosting thousands of civilians from parts of Al Jawf and Marib Governorates. 

Nearly all civilians have fled Al Jawf’s capital, Al Hazm, leaving behind only the most vulnerable. Some families have moved into remote desert areas that are difficult to reach. The rest are headed towards Marib – an area already hosting more than 750,000 people forced from their homes by earlier rounds of hostilities.

Children now account for one in four civilian casualties – up from one in five in 2018. More than half of all civilian casualties now occur in family homes – up from 40 per cent in 2018.

The DERC told the Security Council on 12 March that the “renewed fighting” underlined five priority issues: protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law; humanitarian access and delivery; funding for the UN aid operation; the Yemeni economy; and progress towards peace.

He underlined that the aid community’s common objective is to “maintain principled aid delivery to the millions of people who depend on it to survive”.

To that end, the DERC added, “We are intensifying dialogue with the de facto authorities to ensure the right conditions are in place to facilitate this work. We are also preparing to adjust programmes in case those conditions are not in place.”

Yemen remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. 

The Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan aims to help 20.1 million people, which would not be possible without the generous support of our donors. Urgent funding has enabled UN agencies to scale up its work in averting famine, supporting protection and treating cholera, among other life-saving activities.

In 2019, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provided a generous grant of US$500 million for humanitarian action carried out by UN agencies. So far, the funding has supported 4.6 million vulnerable people, and this number is set to rise.