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World Yemen 'step away' from devastating famine: UN

21:13  02 march  2021
21:13  02 march  2021 Source:   afp.com

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Famine could become part of war-torn Yemen's "reality" in 2021, the UN warned Tuesday, after a donor conference raising funds to keep millions from starvation fell short by over half.

a person holding a baby: A Yemeni mother feeds her malnourished child in a hospital in the rebel-held capital Sanaa on Tuesday, as the UN warned of the risk of famine © Mohammed HUWAIS A Yemeni mother feeds her malnourished child in a hospital in the rebel-held capital Sanaa on Tuesday, as the UN warned of the risk of famine a man flying a kite on a sandy beach: A pro-government Yemeni soldier searches for land mines on Monday; Yemen's development progress has been set back years by the six-year war, the UN says © Khaled Ziad A pro-government Yemeni soldier searches for land mines on Monday; Yemen's development progress has been set back years by the six-year war, the UN says

The United Nations had sought Monday to raise $3.85 billion from more than 100 governments and donors, but only $1.7 billion was offered.

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"The prospect of more people suffering a famine has just grown exponentially," UN Development Programme chief Achim Steiner told AFP on Tuesday.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the six-year-old war, which pits the Iran-backed Huthi rebels against an internationally recognised government supported by a Saudi-led military coalition.

a person wearing a costume: A Yemeni Huthi rebels attends a funeral of comrades killed in battle last month © Mohammed HUWAIS A Yemeni Huthi rebels attends a funeral of comrades killed in battle last month

As fierce battles continue amid a rebel push to seize the government stronghold of Marib, Steiner said Yemen was "a step away" from famine.

"The tipping point...can happen just in a matter of weeks...and that is why we are so concerned we may see a major famine really becoming part of Yemen's reality in the year 2021," he said.

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Steiner said the "immediate implications" of decreasing levels of support will be devastating, with UN and international aid agencies having to slash support at the "worst moment."

- Lost generation -

More than two thirds of the 29 million Yemenis are relying on aid -- which has already been cut from last year, putting a freeze on major programmes.

"Rations have to be cut, food supplies can no longer be provided, health supplies and basic medicines will essentially not be available," Steiner said.

"With the pledges made yesterday, there is perhaps a few more months that have been gained, but the prospect of a severe cutback in food supplies is imminent," he added.

The term famine is used according to a globally agreed scale determined by levels of access to food, acute malnutrition and daily deaths due to hunger.

While gathering the heavy burden of data needed to formally declare a famine is hard to do, nearly 50,000 are already starving to death in famine-like conditions, according to the World Food Programme.

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"It is literally a matter of life and death for many of them in terms of access to food and basic supplies," Steiner said.

The UN describes Yemen as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Steiner estimates development progress in Yemen has been set back by years because of the war.

"There is an entire generation of boys and girls right now who are essentially growing up without the most basic things that we can provide in the 21st century, which is an education," said Steiner.

"There are structural and chronic issues now playing out that will take years and years to even recover to a level of development where Yemen once was just a decade ago."

For Tariq Ramadan, a resident of the rebel-held capital of Sanaa, stopping the war is Yemen's only hope of things improving.

"All Yemeni people wish for the war to end as soon as possible. so that we no longer need any kind of aid," he told AFP.

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UN chief warns of risk of famine for millions around the world .
Millions of people around the world risk dying of hunger and the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change are increasing the threat, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday. "Climate shocks and the Covid-19 pandemic are adding fuel to the flames. I have one simple message: if you don't feed people, you feed conflict," he said."Famine and hunger are no longer about lack of food. They are now largely man-made -- and I use the term deliberately There is no place for famine and starvation in the 21st century.

usr: 2
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