Yemen crisis to hit 4 mn people in 2012: UN

UN agencies warned Monday that Yemen is on its way to becoming another Somalia, saying nearly four million people will be affected by the impoverished nation`s political and economic crisis in 2012.

Updated: Dec 19, 2011, 13:17 PM IST

Dubai: UN agencies warned Monday that Yemen
is on its way to becoming another Somalia, saying nearly four million people will be affected by the impoverished nation`s
political and economic crisis in 2012.

"About four million people will be affected by the crisis
in Yemen in 2012 and will require immediate humanitarian
support," said the UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee.
More than half will be "severely food insecure," said the
IASC statement.

"While there have been significant political developments
in Yemen, humanitarian needs are forecast by all actors to deteriorate still further over the next 12 months," UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Jens Toyberg-Frandzen, told reporters in Dubai.

"In Yemen there`s a new Somalia in the making," Naveed
Hussain, a representative from the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters.

"Somalia became one of the largest refugee-producing
countries in the world. We don`t want that to happen to
Yemen."

Kelly Gilbride, policy adviser of Oxfam, said UNICEF
assessments of the cities of Hudaydah in the west and Hajja in
the north put malnutrition rates at above 30 per cent.

"These (figures) are comparable to Somalia. We are
talking about severe malnutrition rates," she said.

Yemeni Health Minister Ahmed Qasem al-Ansi said: "Around
5,00,000 Yemeni children below five years old suffer from
severe malnutrition."

According to Gilbride, "basic food prices have
skyrocketed almost 50 per cent (while) prices in fuel have
peaked at five times the average amount," adding that the
crisis affects the whole country.

"This is why it`s staggering at this point. We`re not
just talking about conflict-affected areas any more. Men,
women and children across Yemen are not able to find enough
food every day."

Yemen has been rocked by months of deadly anti-government
protests against the government of President Ali Abdullah
Saleh, who has agreed to step down in February 2012 after 33
years in power.

PTI