UN Condemns Yemeni Militias Impeding Humanitarian Relief, Welcomes Medical Airlifts from Sanaa

UN Condemns Yemeni Militias Impeding Humanitarian Relief, Welcomes Medical Airlifts from Sanaa

Saturday, 26 May, 2018 - 09:30
Houthi militiamen carrying a rocket launcher. AP file photo
New York - Ali Barada
Humanitarian agencies are facing increasing restrictions imposed by authorities on their work in Yemen’s northern regions, said UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock.

Yemen’s northwest is largely overrun by Iran-allied Houthi militias. Humanitarian relief team staffers are being detained, intimidated, delayed and denied visas, said Lowcock.

On the other hand, the UN’s Security Council unanimously approved a resolution recognizing for the first time a link between hunger and war.

Adopting resolution 2417, the UNSC strongly condemned starving of civilians, and unlawfully denying humanitarian access as warfare tactics.

Lowcock expressed concern about worsening humanitarian conditions, noting that more than 22 million Yemenis are in dire need for humanitarian aid or protection, while 8.4 million suffer from severe food shortages and stand on the brink of famine.

Submitted by Kuwait, Sweden, the Netherlands and the Ivory Coast, Resolution 2417 expresses grave concerns about the level of humanitarian needs in the world and the threat of famine faced currently by millions of people in areas witnessing armed conflict.

Unanimously adopting the resolution, the Council drew attention to the link between armed conflict and conflict‑induced food insecurity and the threat of famine. It called on all parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law regarding the protection of civilians and on taking care to spare civilian objects, stressing that armed conflicts, violations of international law and related food insecurity could be drivers of forced displacement.

Underlining the importance of safe and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel to civilians in armed conflicts, it also strongly condemned the unlawful denial of such access and depriving civilians of objects indispensable to their survival — including willfully impeding relief supply and access for responses to conflict‑induced food insecurity.

Urging those with influence over parties to conflict to remind the latter of their international obligations, the UNSC also recalled that it could consider adopting sanctions, where appropriate and in line with existing practices, that would apply to individuals or entities obstructing the delivery or distribution of humanitarian assistance to civilians in need.

A quarter of Yemeni children are out of school, deprived of opportunities and made more vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups and other abuses, Lowcock said in a separate statement.

Humanitarian agencies are facing increasing restrictions imposed by forces running northern regions.

He expressed special concern towards the recent decline in commercial food imports passing through Red Sea ports.

Currency pressure and liquidity crisis striking Yemen’s banking system makes imports useless for traders.

Lowcock also said he is concerned with accesses of materials needed to address the outbreak of cholera.

He stressed that since December, the escalation of conflict along the west coast, and in Taiz, has displaced more than 130,000 people, in addition to about 3 million people who have been driven out from their homes since 2015.

Lowcock also warned that persistent indiscriminate rocket firing by Houthi forces on Saudi territory adds a new dimension to the conflict, putting more civilian lives at risk.

He called on all parties to the conflict to respect obligations under international humanitarian law and to ensure that everything possible is done to protect civilians.

More so, Lowcock welcomed the decision to open a medical airlift from Houthi-run Sanaa in Yemen to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This measure will allow transporting patients who suffer from untreatable conditions in Yemen to facilities where they can receive needed assistance.

Above all, Lowcock urged all parties to unconditionally engage meaningfully with the UN in order to reach a lasting settlement to achieve sustainable peace.

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