ICRC President: Responsibility to stop malnutrition in Yemen lies with warring parties

Yemen side-event: Addressing malnutrition in Yemen

25 September 2018

New York – At the United Nations General Assembly High-Level meeting on "Addressing Malnutrition in Yemen," International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer stressed the conflict roots of Yemen's current crisis of malnutrition. The meeting was hosted by the United Kingdom, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

"Food insecurity is the result of protracted conflict," Mr. Maurer said. "It is the result of broken health systems, damaged infrastructure, and shattered economies. It is the result of continued violations of international humanitarian law and the dignity of human life."

Today in Yemen, 22 million people – three-quarters of the population – need assistance; one million more since June last year. Two out of three Yemenis are food insecure.

"Humanitarian aid will not solve the crisis. Humanitarian agencies can neither feed millions of Yemenis nor provide for the healthcare needs of the entire country," Mr. Maurer added. "While some steps have been taken, if we are to help the many millions facing starvation, we simply must see greater action by all parties to allow humanitarian action, to find political solutions and to advance Yemen's economic recovery."

At the event, Mr. Maurer called upon parties involved in the conflict to take the following steps to ease the food crisis in Yemen:

● For the heavy restrictions on imports and on the movement of people to be lifted. The port of Hodeida must be kept open and supplies allowed through, into the country and across the frontlines.

● We are concerned that the definition of "humanitarian supplies" is prohibitively narrow and that desperately needed supplies are being blocked. There must be a more generous interpretation so people have a hope to access what they need.

● Humanitarian work must be safeguarded. The recent attacks on humanitarian workers are shocking – those coming to the aid of others absolutely must be protected.

● Sana'a airport should reopen for humanitarian purposes, at the very least for the medical evacuation of those in need of treatment abroad.

● Those detained cannot be forgotten, When food crises hit, detainees are among the most vulnerable. We ask that the ICRC is allowed continuous access to detention facilities to help to improve conditions.

See full remarks at https://www.icrc.org/en/person/peter-maurer