UN body urges peace in Yemen, readies emergency supplies
Rome : The Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) urged the international community on Thursday to end the conflict in Yemen as the humanitarian agency planned a major scale-up of its food aid assistance for the war-torn nation.
A plea by WFP Director David Beasley was issued after he concluded a three-day visit to Yemen, the scene of the world's current worst humanitarian crisis. The Rome-based agency prepared to ramp up its emergency food assistance to cover 12 million people, Efe news reported.
"What Yemen needs is peace," said Beasley. "Only then will it be possible to re-start the economy, get the currency under control and start paying public salaries, so people can have the money they need to buy food and other basics."
The WFP's current emergency food assistance in Yemen was reaching 7-8 million people every month.
"My heart is breaking after what I saw at the hospital in Hodeidah," said Beasley. "Small children, so malnourished they're little more than skin and bone, lying there with hardly the strength to breathe. In the name of humanity, I urge all warring parties to put an end to this horrific war."
In the past two weeks, forces loyal to the Yemeni government, supported by allied militias and the Saudi-led international coalition, intensified their offensive on Hodeidah, a strategic port through which 70 per cent of Yemen's food supplies arrive.
On the other hand, the international community has persistently called for peace talks with Houthi rebels who took control of the port back in 2014.
According to the latest UN estimates, monthly wheat imports were down by 15 per cent in a country where 17.8 million people were starving, of which 8.4 million were in a critical food situation.
The Yemen conflict erupted in 2014 when Houthi rebels occupied the capital Sana'a and intensified in March 2015 when the Saudi Arabia military coalition intervened in favour of Yemen's President Abdo Rabu Mansur Hadi.