Yemen war must stop to allow aid in, says UN

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Refugees on Yemen’s Red Sea coast. Photo: UNHCR/R. Nuri (file)

The fighting in Yemen must stop to allow humanitarian supplies in "by air or by boat", a top UN aid chief said Friday.

Johannes van der Klaauw, who heads the UN refugee agency's (UNHCR) humanitarian effort there, warned that services were at risk of collapse amid "complete lawlessness."

He said it was critical to deliver supplies before stressing the need for a political solution to the conflict since it could not be solved by humanitarian means.

Daniel Johnson has more.

In his appeal to "all parties" now battling for control of Yemen to allow aid into the country, Johannes van der Klaauw described a country on a knife edge.

Fifteen of Yemen's 22 governorates were now affected by the conflict and Aden, the second city, has been overrun with what he called "uncontrollable militias".

Children, meanwhile, have been armed by several militias in the city who were operating a "kind of vendetta war", the UN aid coordinator said.

He told journalists in Geneva that it was "only a matter of days" before millions of people in Aden lost access to drinking water; hence his call for a "humanitarian pause".

"I've been calling for three things; one is that parties to the conflict must protect the rights and the lives of the people and must protect civilian infrastructure, second, I've asked parties to allow aid workers and humanitarian organisations to be present in the country to be able to transport aid…and third…for the parties to resume around the negotiating table."

Because of the fighting "thousands of Yemenis" have fled the country to Djibouti, the UN spokesperson said.

It's normally the other way round, according to the UN refugee agency, which is expecting to see 130,000 Yemeni refugees returning to the Horn of Africa in the next six months.

Latest UN figures point to 648 people killed in the conflict to date, with nearly 2,200 injured.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration:1'24"

 

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