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Aid agencies call for life-saving support to Yemen

By Reuters - Apr 24,2017 - Last updated at Apr 24,2017

Children stand next to a tent at a camp for people displaced by the war near Sanaa, Yemen, on Monday (Reuters photo)

GENEVA  — Aid agency Oxfam called on donor nations on Monday to step up life-saving assistance to millions of civilians in Yemen facing starvation and disease.

"Many areas of Yemen are on the brink of famine, and the cause of such extreme starvation is political," the British charity said on the eve of a United Nations conference in Geneva to seek aid pledges for the Arab country.

Alexander Ventura, emergency coordinator and head of mission in Yemen for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said: "The health system is at the verge of collapse and medical services are under fire."

Yemen is reeling from two years of civil war that pits Houthi rebels, aligned with Iran, against a Western-backed. At least 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting, which has unleashed a humanitarian crisis.

The UN has so far only received 15 per cent of $2.1 billion sought in aid for Yemen this year.

"Bilateral and institutional donors must prioritise assistance to the country's health system to avoid total collapse," Ventura said, adding that doctors and nurses had not been paid in six months.

Civilians are "deliberately targeted" by all warring sides, he said, and severe acute malnutrition was on the rise.

"Children are more at risk of dying from preventable diseases, pregnant women are unable to deliver safely and people suffering chronic conditions like renal failure are in need of dialysis," he said. "Silent deaths must be prevented."

 MSF, which supports 12 hospitals across Yemen, uses Hodeidah and other ports to bring in medical supplies but has begun airlifting goods to Aden, Hodeidah and Sanaa, Ventura said.

 

"We are keeping an eye on Hodeidah, if [an attack] happens to provide assistance as well. We are getting ourselves prepared, we are already supporting some health facilities."

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