A Red Cross official warned in an interview with The Associated Press Friday that the world must not forget Yemen and other war-torn nations amid the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
The head of delegation in Yemen for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Katharina Ritz, said the country is still in need of aid as the deadly war between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels, which has lasted for over seven years and resulted in thousands of civilian deaths, continues.
“I think our duty is to respond equally to the needs and do our best,” said Ritz, per the AP. “I think it’s not about is it Ukraine or not? Now it’s Ukraine and Yemen and Syria and Iraq and Congo and so on. … We have to add Ukraine on all the crises, but we shouldn’t shift.”
Her comments come after the head of the United Nations food agency said in an interview with the AP last month that 13 million people in Yemen were facing starvation amid the ongoing conflict in the country.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine could further exacerbate the threat of famine in Yemen, the AP noted, as it imports roughly 40 percent of its wheat from the two countries.
“Now obviously, we have the wheat supply, which will have an impact on the the food supply for Yemen,” Ritz said, per the wire service. “The coping mechanism in the country is very limited, and I think that is going to be a major struggle.”
Ritz also said that a possible prisoner swap is being discussed by the Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition fighting for the exiled Yemeni government. A major swap between the two sides has not occurred since 2020, the AP noted.
Houthi rebels seized control of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa in late 2014, banishing the Yemeni government to Aden, Yemen, according to the AP. Months later, the Saudi-led coalition entered Yemen in support of the exiled government.