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UN seeks funds to aid Yemenis

Posted on Jan 30, 04:36PM | IBNS

Washington, Jan 30 : Amid continuing conflict and a breakdown in healthcare services, the number of people in need of assistance in Yemen has shot up to over 13 million, the United Nations humanitarian wing warned as it appealed for an increase in funding for the country.

According to the latest update from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the 2013 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan urgently requires USD716 million in order to provide emergency and early recovery assistance to 7.7 million of the country's most needy - a 22 per cent increase in funding requirements compared with the 2012 response plan.

"Across Yemen, ongoing conflicts, disruption of the socio-economic fabric and breakdown of many government services have significantly reduced the capacity to deliver basic healthcare services," cautioned OCHA, noting that an overall lack of funding threatened access to healthcare for 200,000 Yemenis reliant on health services provided by humanitarian partners.

"Due to the breakdown of health services, poor water and sanitation facilities and high malnutrition rates, Yemenis, particularly women and children, are exposed to life-threatening health conditions and it has also increased the possibility of disease outbreak," it said.

In 2012, Yemen witnessed repeated outbreaks of a number of infectious diseases, including measles, dengue fever, chikungunya, and possibly polio, according to OCHA, which added that recurring conflict in Yemen's northern governorates had further exacerbated the humanitarian situation.

In addition to the estimated 300,000 internally displaced people fleeing the violence, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that another 578,000 people who remain within the conflict-affected areas are also in need of healthcare assistance.

"The mental and physical trauma experienced by both those who have fled the violence and those who stayed in the conflict-affected areas has increased the need for secondary-level healthcare services, including surgical and psychosocial support," OCHA reported.

With fears that the latest funding commitments will not be met - the 2012 response plan for Yemen, for example, was only 58 per cent funded - OCHA announced that new commitments from donors would be "key" to ensuring the implementation of the new 2013 plan, and cited increased efforts to raise awareness among donor countries, particularly in the region.