LONDON: Attacks on aid workers in Yemen have increased at an “alarming” rate, the country’s UN humanitarian coordinator said on Friday.
David Gressly marked World Humanitarian Day on Aug. 19 by highlighting the “extremely challenging” environment that aid workers face in war-torn Yemen, especially amid Houthi attempts to control food aid distribution.
In a statement, Gressly said that aid workers in Yemen — more than 95 percent of whom are Yemenis – work to ensure that 12.6 million people receive humanitarian assistance or protection support every month.
But in the first half of 2022, one aid worker was killed, two injured, seven kidnapped and nine detained.
Gressly also pointed out 27 incidents of threat and intimidation between January and June, compared with 17 such incidents recorded in the whole of 2021.
He added that there were also 28 carjacking incidents recorded in the first six months of the year, 17 more than in 2021, and 27 attacks on aid organizations’ premises and facilities — including the looting of humanitarian supplies and other assets.
Gressly also highlighted how aid workers have been targets of disinformation and incitement in recent months, including “false allegations that they corrupt Yemeni values, including the morals of young women.”
He added: “Such baseless allegations jeopardize the safety and security of humanitarian workers, especially Yemeni female aid workers at a time when women and girls are experiencing increased levels of violence and a rollback of their rights in many parts of the globe.
“Violence and threats against humanitarian workers undermines the delivery of aid, further jeopardizing the lives of those most in need,” he said.
“Aid workers in Yemen deserve to be celebrated for their selfless dedication.”
While the UN-brokered ceasefire between the Houthis and the Arab Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen has provided relief to civilians since going into effect in April and deserves full backing, the humanitarian crisis is as dire as ever.
More than 23 million people need some form of humanitarian assistance or protection, according to Gressly.
The number of people facing food insecurity is projected to increase to 19 million by December. The malnutrition rate among women and children is among the highest in the world and a third of the 4.3 million internally displaced people in Yemen continue to live under extreme conditions, his statement said.
Without the tireless commitment of humanitarians in Yemen, the situation would be far worse, Gressly added.
“Aid workers in Yemen remain unwavering in their mission. These selfless women and men continue to step up to every day, providing millions of people in need with food and cash, health services and clean water, protection and emergency education.
“We should all do everything we can to protect them and support their critical work.”