The UN special envoy for Yemen has warned that the nation is “one step” away from famine, as he called for a humanitarian ceasefire during Ramadan as the first step towards a more sustainable truce. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said after briefing the UN Security Council that 21 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance compared with seven million two years ago. Aljazeera has more:
The crisis is a result of fighting between Shia Houthi fighters and allied troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh against forces loyal to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and an allied Arab coalition. Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that all parties to the conflict were responsible for the suffering of the Yemeni people until there was “a true ceasefire” that could be monitored by “an international, impartial mechanism”.
The envoy, who mediated talks between the parties in Geneva last week, said that despite the deep divisions and failure to reach any agreement, “both sides showed signs of constructive engagement and there is an emerging common ground upon which we can build to achieve an eventual ceasefire coupled with the withdrawal of combatants”. The humanitarian crisis in the Arab world’s poorest country has escalated as the conflict has intensified, leaving 20 million Yemenis without access to safe drinking water and uprooting another one million people from their homes.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent Omar al-Saleh described the situation in the capital Sanaa as “dire”. “There are long queues for almost everything here. There is no running water and many rely on tankers. It’s often hours before one arrives,” Saleh said.