The United Nations (UN) estimates that the war in Yemen, which has lasted for seven years, will have caused the death of 377,000 people, direct and indirect victims of the conflict, by the end of 2021.
Almost 60% of the deaths, or about 227,000 people, are due to the indirect consequences of the conflict, such as lack of clean water, hunger and disease, according to a report, Tuesday, November 23, of the United Nations Program for development (UNDP). According to these estimates, the fighting will have killed 150,000 people by the end of this year.
The conflict pits Iranian-backed Houthi rebels against Yemeni government forces, backed since 2015 by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia. Seven years of war have had “Catastrophic effects on the development of the nation”, underlines the UNDP according to which “Access to health care is limited or non-existent” and “The economy is on the verge of collapsing”.
Most of the indirect victims are “Children particularly vulnerable to malnutrition and undernutrition”, explains the UNDP. “In 2021, a Yemeni child under five dies every nine minutes due to the conflict”, is it written.
The “biggest humanitarian disaster in the world”
According to the UNDP, “1.3 million people” are threatened with death if a peace agreement is not reached by 2030. “An increasing proportion of these deaths will occur … due to the indirect consequences of the crisis on livelihoods, food prices and the deterioration of basic services, such as health and education”, is it indicated.
Escalating fighting, including tank battles and regular bombing by planes and drones, has destroyed even the most basic of infrastructure in some areas, the report continues. Millions of people are on the brink of famine, with two-thirds of Yemenis dependent on humanitarian aid, according to the UN.
“Yemen is the worst and biggest humanitarian disaster in the world, and this disaster continues to worsen”, recalled the UN and “More than 80% of the population” of about 30 million inhabitants “Needs humanitarian aid”. From “Millions of Yemenis continue to suffer from conflict, trapped in poverty, with few possibilities to find work and a livelihood”, said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.
The organization had previously recalled that the level of development of Yemen, the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, had fallen by two decades because of the conflict.
Intensification of the fighting
UNDP hoped that the country could achieve the “Middle income status by 2050” if the war ended immediately, but on the ground few signs seem to point in this direction. In recent weeks, fighting has intensified on several fronts. Sources close to the Houthis say nearly 15,000 of their fighters have been killed since June alone near Marib, the last major government stronghold in the oil-rich north.
In the loyalist camp, more than 1,200 fighters have been killed in this area during the same period, two military officials told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Tuesday “Extremely worried about the safety and security of civilians in the province of Marib, in particular the displaced”, estimated at ” a million “.
“More than 40,000 people have had to flee Marib since September”UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo told Geneva. “Many newly displaced people suffered from acute diarrhea, malaria and acute respiratory infections”.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a report on Wednesday “To have seen as much distress in Marib these last two months as these last two years”. According to the IOM, new arrivals in the 137 IDP camps in the province have almost increased tenfold since September.
“We sometimes see up to forty people forced to share the same tent”, deplores Christa Rottensteiner, IOM Head of Mission for Yemen.
On another front of the war, the Houthis took control, in mid-November, of a large area south of Hodeidah, a strategic port city in the west, essential for the delivery of humanitarian aid.