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Houthi Aid Constraints Affect 10 Mn Yemenis

An estimated 10.1 million (49 percent) of the people in need across Yemen are living in areas affected by Houthi aid access constraints, according to the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs.

In a report reviewing the relief work during the past year, the UN indicated that the operating environment in Yemen remains highly challenging, with more than 3,500 humanitarian access-related incidents recorded in 2022.

The bureaucratic impediments continued to delay and hinder the delivery of principled humanitarian assistance.

The report confirmed that security incidents increased throughout 2022, including carjacking, kidnappings, and violence against humanitarian personnel, with 14 abductions and 13 detentions reported by partners during 2022.

The six-month UN-brokered truce (2 April – 2 October 2022) saw decreased civilian casualties and displacement (76 percent), with no airstrikes or significant military operations, and facilitated greater freedom of movement and increased flow of fuel imports, as well as enhanced humanitarian access in some areas.

However, the report noted that low-level clashes continued in frontline areas throughout the truce, including landmines, and devastatingly impacted civilians as movements increased.

More than three-quarters of all displaced persons in Yemen are women and children, and at least 26 percent of displaced households are female-headed.

The report stated that the Yemeni economy continued to weaken, affected by macroeconomic instability, the de facto separation of economic institutions and competing monetary policies, import restrictions, increased costs of food and other essential materials, and the impact of natural disasters.

According to the report of the UN office, the humanitarian operations in Yemen witnessed a significant funding decrease.

By the end of last year, the Humanitarian Response Plan was funded by only 54.6 percent, leaving a gap of $1.94 billion, affecting the provision of humanitarian aid and leading to a decrease in emergency food aid.

The report said that after more than eight years of conflict, millions still suffer from the compounding effects of armed violence, the ongoing economic crisis, and the disruption of public services.

In its review, the UN office warned that food insecurity and malnutrition levels remain high, driven by the primary and secondary effects of the conflict and deteriorating macroeconomic conditions.

It said that an estimated 17 million people faced a crisis or, worse, acute food insecurity between October and December.

The country remains vulnerable to disease outbreaks, including vaccine-preventable ones.

Almost a third of the population is missing routine vaccinations. More than 80 percent of the country’s population struggles to access essential services, such as food, drinking water, and health care.

Less than half of health facilities are functioning, and many that remain operational need essential equipment. Water infrastructure is operating at less than five percent efficiency.

For its part, the World Food Program confirmed that malnutrition in Yemen was a health issue that preceded the beginning of the current conflict in the country, especially among children and pregnant and lactating women.

In the Hajjah governorate and surrounding areas, the war has exacerbated malnutrition.

The report stated that the team that went to the al-Qarah district to address malnutrition faced significant challenges and difficulties, including population dispersal and their continuous movements to search for pasture and work.

They also faced geographical challenges, as the roads were rough, and most of the population lived in mountainous heights.

The team also witnessed several social challenges, customs, traditions, revenge, and internal wars between tribes from time to time.

According to the UN program, the team faced another difficulty in selecting educated community health volunteers (CHVs), as 90 percent of the women in the region were illiterate, and those selected had poor performance levels.

Moreover, social norms in this area prevent women from working in the field, but with continuous follow-up and hard work, the team convinced the community of the CHV’s role in helping children and pregnant and lactating women.

One of the volunteers said, “Thanks to the hard work of YFCA’s team, we were able to implement the blanket supplementary feeding program activities in one of the most hard-to-reach areas.”

They reached 5,279 pregnant and lactating women and 7,011 children under two.

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