Tuesday, March 29, 2011

UN voices concern over Yemen situation

Mar 29, 2011

A senior UN humanitarian official has expressed concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen as anti-government protests gain momentum in the impoverished Arab nation.

"I urge those involved to refrain from excessive violence and ensure the safety of the civilian population," UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said in a news release issued on Monday.

"I am especially concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen because, even before the recent protests, the country was facing a humanitarian crisis due to protracted conflict in the north displacing 300,000 people, some of them multiple times," she added.

"The recent fighting has again affected hundreds of people that have not recovered from earlier conflict,” she further explained.

The UN humanitarian official also said, "The United Nations is discussing how to reach affected people with both the government and the al-Houthis, and I hope we will have an agreement on access soon. The prolonged and chronic suffering in the country means that humanitarian aid continues to be urgently needed."

More than 82 Yemenis have been killed and hundreds more left injured in a brutal crackdown by state security forces. Anti-government protests began to sweep Yemen in January.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been in office for more than three decades, with several opposition members arguing that his long-promised reforms have not materialized.

There are concerns that intermittent skirmishes between anti-government demonstrators and forces loyal to embattled Saleh could eventually spiral out of control and trigger a large-scale violence.

Some 40 percent of Yemen's population lives on less than USD 2 a day or less, and a third is wrestling with chronic hunger.

Some 31.5 percent of the population is "food insecure", and around 12 percent are "severely food insecure,” according to the United Nations.

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