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Source: United Nations (Video News)

Briefing by Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (OCHA), on the Situation in the Middle East (Yemen), during the Security Council Open VTC.

United Nations top humanitarians warned the Security Council that “time is running out” to prevent millions of Yemenis sliding into famine.

In a virtual meeting held on Tuesday (11 Nov) the Security Council heard from Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, and Executive Director of the World Food Programme David Beasley who in turn briefed on the dire situation in the impoverished country.

“I am deeply concerned by the periodic spikes in violence between the parties particularly in Marib and Taiz, and of course the recent escalation in attacks on Saudi territory which we all believe should be stopped immediately,” said Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths. “I hope that these spikes do not herald a return to the widespread violence that we saw earlier this year.”

Over the past months, Griffiths was involved in the shuttle diplomacy, mediating between he warring parties on the text of the Joint Declaration and the recent mutual agreement on release of detainees.

Calling on the parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international law to protect civilian lives and infrastructure, the Special Envoy turned to the situation in the port city Hodieda, where “there is no better option than that ceasefire, combined with a return nationally to the political process.”

Briefing on the humanitarian situation in Yemen, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Lowcock said, “Yemenis are not ‘going hungry’. They are being starved”.

Calling on “all of us” – parties to the conflict, Security Council members, donors, humanitarian organizations and others to “do everything we can to stop this,” Lowcock warned of the widening gap in funding for the UN response plan in Yemen, which is now only 45 percent funded.

“Time is running out,” Lowcock said.

According to the Humanitarian Coordinator, without sufficient funds, some nine million Yemenis could lose access to basic health services, and treatment of more than half a million malnourished children could stop.

“More money for the aid operation is the quickest and most efficient way to support famine prevention efforts right now. So, I again implore donors to fulfil outstanding pledges and to increase their support. More than 200 million dollars in pledges this year – including new funding announced in September – has still not been paid,” Lowcock said.