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Aid organisations continue their work in Yemen

National and international humanitarian organisations will continue their work in Yemen despite the prevailing political and security circumstances.

At an expanded meeting held February 22nd at the Ministry of Planning and International Co-operation, United Nations and international organisations active in humanitarian aid work in Yemen agreed to continue their operations based on plans that meet the country's growing humanitarian needs.

These bodies will continue to operate with the support and backing of central and local government.

Yemen Humanitarian Co-ordinator Johannes Van der Klaauw affirmed the humanitarian community's commitment to providing assistance to the needy and displaced in all regions.

In Yemen, 61% of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance, he said. This includes 10.6 million people who are food insecure, half of whom are severely food insecure.

A further 13.4 million people lack access to safe water or adequate sanitation, and 8.4 million are without access to adequate health care, he added.

To address the most urgent needs, Yemen's humanitarian partners aim to reach 8.2 million people in 2015 with a range of life-saving, protection and resilience-building activities, according to a revised Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan released Thursday (March 5th).

Van der Klaauw called on donors to help bridge the $408 million financing gap in order to meet Yemen's humanitarian needs, which are expected to cost $748 million.

"The international organisations recognise the gravity of the humanitarian situation in Yemen, and accordingly announced the continuation of their work despite the difficult circumstances," Deputy Minister of Planning and International Co-operation Abdullah al-Shater told Al-Shorfa.

AID FOCUSED ON EDUCATION, HEALTH, FOOD

The humanitarian aid UN and partner organisations provide has a direct impact on development support as it is concentrated in the areas of education, health and food aid, al-Shater said.

Food aid is distributed to those affected by unrest, particularly those who have been displaced from Abyan province because of the war with al-Qaeda, he added.

The situation on the ground is safe in Sanaa and in other provinces where aid organisations operate, he said, noting that "ease of movement on the ground has encouraged and facilitated the work of humanitarian organisations, whose role grows more vital in times of crisis".

Negative effects can arise if humanitarian organisations operating in Yemen are not able to continue their work, he added.

"The World Food Programme (WFP) is working to address malnutrition and lack of food security and encourage children to attend school by distributing food aid to them," he said. "A disruption of these interventions will have a direct impact on food and public health, and the same is true for programmes run by the UN children's fund (UNICEF) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who focus on the most affected [populations] and support the education and health sectors."

The WFP is continuing to implement its programmes in Yemen, said the programme's Sanaa communication officer, Fares Khuwailed.

"The programme is continuing its humanitarian activities in Yemen despite the current crisis, because a stoppage in the implementation of these activities would make the situation more disastrous, particularly in the education sector, where we encourage children to attend school by providing food aid to them," he told Al-Shorfa.

The programme also provides support to farmers through infrastructure projects, including roads and water tanks, which helps boost the production process and increase incomes, he said.

The WFP also implements activities to address malnutrition and support the displaced, Khuwailed said.

HUMANITARIAN AID 'NEEDS TO BE STEPPED UP'

" WFP believes that in these difficult times its role becomes even more important," said WFP Yemen Country Representative Purnima Kashyap, noting that in these circumstances humanitarian assistance needs to be stepped up rather than stepped down.

"The current upheavals are certain to hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest," she said, adding that the "WFP is very concerned about how people are managing to cope with the latest upheaval".

WFP’s operations in Yemen include food assistance to thousands of internally displaced people in conflict-affected areas, she said. They also include safety net and livelihood support through food or cash-for-work for vulnerable and poor households in rural areas, and the prevention and treatment of malnutrition among pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children.

WFP is also about to start a school feeding programme, Kashyap added, which will provide a daily nutritious snack to thousands of children as well as take-home rations of wheat and vegetable oil to 115,000 girls.

The rations are designed to help boost girls’ school attendance, which is much lower than boys’, and to discourage early marriage, she said.

UNICEF also announced the continuation of its programmes in Yemen.

"The organisation is continuing its programmes, including those related to child development and protection, enrolment of children of both sexes in school and the area of children's rights policies and advocacy," said UNICEF Sanaa office communication officer Mohamed al-Asaadi.

Security and stability is vital to ensure that humanitarian organisations can continue to provide services that must be delivered in the field, he said, especially health sector services such as the delivery of vaccines, medicine and other materials.

Al-Shorfa

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