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Yemen most at risk of humanitarian catastrophe in 2021: IRC

Yemen is the country most at risk of a humanitarian catastrophe in 2021, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has warned, marking the third year running the war-ravaged nation has earned the grim recognition.

Continued conflict, widespread hunger and a collapsing international aid response threaten to dramatically worsen the current crisis in Yemen next year, the IRC said on Wednesday.

Tamuna Sabadze, the aid agency’s director for Yemen, said support was critical, now more “than ever”.

In an interview with Al Jazeera from the capital, Sanaa, she called for “more commitment than we see today” from internal, regional and global actors to end the conflict.

“Without this, things will not change in Yemen; the ordinary civilians of Yemen will really have no future and no hope.

“Twenty-four million people are in need of some kind of humanitarian aid – be it food, protection, health services, or education.

“The majority of the country really needs the UN and humanitarian funding in order to meet their basic day-to-day needs.”

Abeer Fowzi, IRC’s deputy nutrition coordinator, said: “In the face of an unprecedented threat, the world has turned its back on Yemen.

“Never before have Yemenis faced so little support from the international community – or so many simultaneous challenges.”

Financial support for the country is drying up, with UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warning in November Yemen had received less than half of the emergency funds it needed this year.

Lowcock told the UN Security Council the 2020 appeal for Yemen had received only about $1.5bn in donations to date, some 45 percent of the $3.4bn required. By this time last year it had received almost $3bn, he said.

According to the UN, 80 percent of Yemen’s 30 million people need some form of aid or protection.

About 13.5 million Yemenis currently face acute food insecurity, including 16,500 people living in famine-like conditions, UN data shows.

In 2014, the Iran-aligned Houthi rebel group seized large swaths of the country, including Sanaa.

The war escalated in March 2015, when a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition intervened in an attempt to restore the government of Riyadh-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The coalition has been assisted by several Western powers, including the United States.

Both sides have since been accused of war crimes during fighting that has killed more than 100,000 people to date, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project.

Peace talks aimed at resolving the conflict have been stalled since late 2018, despite repeated efforts by UN officials to revive negotiations and end what it calls the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

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