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A Humanitarian Pause Required in Yemen


FILE - Women and children wait to fill buckets with water from a public tap amid an acute shortage of water, in Sana'a, Yemen, May 9, 2015.

The United Nations has declared the humanitarian situation in war-torn Yemen a level three emergency – the highest designation possible.

The United Nations has declared the humanitarian situation in war-torn Yemen a level three emergency – the highest designation possible.

According to the United Nations, more than 21.1 million people -- over 80 percent of Yemen's population -- are in need of aid, with 13 million facing food shortages and scarcity of other goods like fuel. Fuel and commercially imported food and medicine have been impacted severely by maritime interdiction operations, leading to scarcity of many resources. There are also reports of outbreaks of dengue fever and malaria that have already affected thousands of Yemenis.

In addition, more than 3,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

The military conflict in Yemen began in March, when the Houthis took over large swaths of territory and forced the elected president, Abed Mansour Hadi, to flee the country. At the request of President Hadi, a Saudi Arabian-led military coalition, began airstrikes against Houthi positions.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.N. Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed have been urging a humanitarian pause between the parties during the holy month of Ramadan, which ends on July 17, so urgently needed aid can reach the Yemeni people. A previous 5-day pause in May was repeatedly violated by the Houthis. The United States joins the United Nations and the international community in calling for an immediate humanitarian pause.

In a written statement, State Department Spokesperson John Kirby noted, “A pause, along with commensurate disengagement of armed forces in all areas, including Aden, Taiz, and Marib, would allow international aid organizations to deliver urgently needed food, medicine, and fuel to citizens throughout Yemen. It would also allow for the delivery of vital commercial goods on which Yemen depends.”

“The United States,” said Spokesperson Kirby, “will continue to work actively with humanitarian organizations to help facilitate the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid.”

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