UN Secretary-General António Guterres says “we must do all we can now” to end human suffering and avoid the worst humanitarian crisis in the world from getting even worse. During a press encounter on Yemen on Friday at the UN, Guterres said the situation in Yemen was the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
“This is not a natural disaster. It is man-made,” he said.
“Yemen today stands on a precipice. On the humanitarian side, the situation is desperate. We must do all we can to prevent the already dire conditions from deteriorating into the worst famine we have seen in decades.”
Guterres said on the political side, there were signs of hope.
“We must do all we can to maximise the chances for success,” he said.
Guterres said the international community had a real opportunity to halt the senseless cycle of violence and to prevent an imminent catastrophe.
“The time to act is now,” he said.
Guterres said over the last several months, military escalation and a severe, rapid economic crisis had made an unbearable situation even worse.
“International humanitarian law has been flouted repeatedly,” he observed.
Guterres said the UN and its partners were already feeding eight million people in Yemen.
“Without urgent action, up to 14 million people – fully half the population – could be at risk in the coming months. To avert imminent catastrophe, several steps are urgently required,” he said. “First, violence must stop everywhere – with an immediate halt around critical infrastructure and densely populated areas. Second, commercial and humanitarian imports of food, fuel and other essentials must be allowed to enter Yemen without restrictions. Roads must remain open, so life-saving goods can reach communities across the country everywhere. Third, the Yemeni economy must be supported. This includes taking critical steps to stabilise the exchange rate and to pay salaries and pensions.”
Guterres said international funding must increase now so that humanitarian agencies can expand their reach as necessary.
“At the same time, it is essential that the Yemeni parties engage in good faith and without preconditions with my Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to reach a negotiated political settlement to end the conflict,” said Guterres.
“The urgency of the humanitarian crisis leaves no room for complacency. I welcome recent announcements by Yemeni parties expressing readiness to resume consultations. There is now an opportunity for peace in Yemen. This building wave of momentum must be seized.”