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International help for Yemen sought

A special meeting to discuss the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen held at GCC headquarters in Riyadh (SPA)

By Arab News | Riyadh | 22 Mar 2012

A top GCC official urged the international community to shoulder the responsibility of helping the impoverished state of Yemen in its efforts to restore political and economic stability and improve the deteriorating humanitarian situation there.

Abdul Aziz Al-Owaishiq, assistance secretary-general for strategic dialogue and negotiation affairs at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), noted Yemen has embarked on a difficult track of restoring normalcy after holding recent presidential elections.

He made the remarks while inaugurating a special emergency meeting to discuss the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen at the GCC headquarters in Riyadh yesterday. Senior Saudi and GCC officials as well as representatives of the UN, European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom in addition to several other countries and organizations working in the humanitarian field are taking part in the meeting.

Al-Owaishiq highlighted the great efforts being exerted by the six-nation GCC to end bloodshed and restore stability in the neighboring country. “The infrastructure facilities in Yemen were damaged during the violence last year. Even before the political crisis erupted, there had been difficulties in dispatching humanitarian assistance to thousands of people, especially women and children, who are either starving or facing acute malnutrition, and this resulted in further aggravating the situation,” he said while calling on the international community to lend a helping hand to the Yemeni people to come out of the grave crisis.

Al-Owaishiq also noted the GCC convened the emergency meeting in its bid to coordinate global efforts to stand by Yemen in its hour of distress.

A specialized UN panel is set to present in the meeting a detailed plan to address the challenges faced by Yemen’s starving masses, rescue children, and extend assistance to the displaced. According to a recent report of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, thousands of Yemenis are facing a humanitarian crisis due to civil unrest, soaring food and fuel prices, and a breakdown of social services.

The meeting is making an assessment of the humanitarian situation in Yemen, which resulted from the crisis experienced by the country during the last several months. Ahmed Al-Kabi, a spokesman of the GCC General Secretariat, noted the rate of malnutrition is worrying despite support from the international community, including Saudi Arabia. “Currently, the number of malnourished children stands at 750,000, with half a million at risk of dying this year if adequate support is not provided,” he observed. In addition, the education of thousands of children across the country continues to be disrupted by the occupation of schools by armed forces and the number of internally displaced people, he added.

 

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