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Yemen faces 'catastrophic' conditions: UN

February 27, 2018

After three years of war, the Middle East country faces a growing risk of famine and cholera, the UN has warned. Warring parties have continued a "destructive pattern of zero-sum politics."

A tribesman loyal to Houthi rebels, right, chants slogans during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters into battlefronts to fight pro-government forces in several Yemeni cities, in Sanaa, Yemen
Image: picture-alliance/H.Mohammed

UN aid operations chief John Ging on Tuesday said living conditions in Yemen are "catastrophic" following three years of conflict.

Ging said Yemen, considered the world's worst humanitarian crisis, faces a growing risk of famine and cholera.

More than one million people have been infected with cholera since April 2017, the UN official noted, adding that diphtheria was on the rise for the first time since 1982.

Read more: Yemen: Between conflict and collapse

On top of the public health crisis, more than 22 million people need food assistance, including 8.4 million who are on the verge of severe hunger, according to UN figures.

"People's lives have continued unraveling," said Ging. "Conflict has escalated since November driving an estimated 100,000 people from their homes."

Infographic showing the humanitarian crisis in Yemen

'More poverty and destruction'

Outgoing UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that over the past two months, the conflict has escalated in several areas, including in the strategic port city of Aden and the Saudi-Yemen border.

"The parties have continued the destructive pattern of zero-sum politics which has led the country to plunge into more poverty and destruction," said Cheikh Ahmed.

Read more: Yemen's forgotten war: Locals tell their stories

More than 15,000 people have been killed and thousands more have been injured since 2015, when Saudi Arabia launched a military offensive against the Houthis and their allies aimed at supporting the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Human rights group have accused both sides of atrocities, including targeting combatants in civilian areas.

"For nearly three years, Yemen's warring parties have committed war crimes with little fear that other governments will hold them to account," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, last month.

ls/aw (AP, AFP)