Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Yemen: Senior UN official brokers accord to allow medical aid, supplies to northern Yemen

Children in Dammaj village, northern Yemen, are cut off from food and healthcare. Photo: IRIN 

4 November 2013 – A senior United Nations official in Yemen has helped to broker an agreement to allow in medical and other supplies, and to evacuate the wounded from the northern part of the country, which has experience escalating violence, it was announced today.

A UN spokesperson told journalists in New York that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will be able to access Dammaj – a town in the northern governorate of Sa’ada – due to negotiations led by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benom.

Dammaj has been the centre of clashes between Houthi and Salafi armed groups for the past several weeks, which has recently escalated, resulting in dozens killed and injured.

“Mr. Benomar has pressed all concerned to implement an immediate cease-fire and to allow unfettered humanitarian access into the area,” the UN spokesperson said.

The UN official has been closely following the conflict in and around Dammaj, and he has been in close communication with President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Minister of Defence Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, and Houthi and Salafi leaders.

He also has urged them to resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue to reach a sustainable solution to the conflict in the area.

Yemen has been undergoing a democratic transition, with a Government of National Unity, which came to power in an election in February 2012 following protests that led to the resignation of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In addition, the security situation remains volatile in parts of the country, and Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) remains a major threat, according to a briefing Mr. Benom gave to the Security Council last month.

Currently some 13 million people – more than half the entire population – require some form of humanitarian aid.

In addition, child malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world with close to half of Yemen’s children under five years – two million children – stunted and one million acutely malnourished.