U.N. seeks $716 million for humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:45am EST
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By Mahmoud Habboush

DUBAI (Reuters) - United Nations aid organizations working in Yemen asked international donors on Tuesday for $716 million to fund urgent humanitarian aid for a state where nearly a million children under five are acutely malnourished.

A new U.N. report also said that 10.5 million of Yemen's 24 million people lacked sufficient food supplies, and 13 million had no access to safe water and basic sanitation.

Poverty was one of the factors behind a popular uprising that forced out president Ali Abdullah Saleh last year.

With much international attention now focused on Syria's civil war, the current administration is still grappling with the threat of violence from al Qaeda, secessionist sentiment in southern Yemen, and Shi'ite Muslim Houthi rebels who control swathes of the north.

"It is an extremely fragile situation, people are suffering and we want to make sure that the global community are aware of this," said Trond Jensen, head of office of the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Yemen.

"More than half of the population in Yemen are in need in some form ... of humanitarian assistance."

The Friends of Yemen, who include Yemen's rich Gulf neighbors and the five permanent members states of the U.N. Security Council, made pledges of $7.9 billion in September to address the humanitarian and budget crisis and upgrade infrastructure.

PLEDGES   Continued...