Yemen’s public services face collapse amid worsening conflict, UN warns

20 Nov 15

The ongoing war in Yemen has brought its education and health systems to the brink of collapse, a senior United Nations official has warned.


Yemeni military soldiers

Yemeni military soldiers


Conflict started in Yemen during the Arab Spring in 2011, after long-serving dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh was deposed. Groups have been warring ever since, with the forces mainly split between those loyal to his replacement, Adb Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and those allied to the rebels who oppose him. Conflict intensified earlier this year.

Terrorist groups al-Qaeda and Islamic State have also attacked the country, and Saudi Arabia has been launching airstrikes against the rebels since March.

At the end of a three-day visit to the country, John Ging, head of operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said: “Eight months of conflict have had a devastating effect on all aspects of life in Yemen, with the health and education sectors hit the hardest.

“A sharp reduction in imports and a ban on exports have reduced public and commercial revenues, resulting in collapsing services and livelihoods. Ministries are running out of money for supplies and salaries for health workers and teachers, and there are widespread shortages of medicines to treat chronic illnesses.”

He said representatives of the government, opposition, humanitarian partners and all other actors he met in the country called for an immediate end to the devastating conflict.

Ging praised the work of Yemeni civil society organisations, national and international NGOs and UN organisations, but said “we must be clear that humanitarian agencies cannot substitute for a country’s public services”.

“Peace is the only solution to prevent a humanitarian disaster,” he said. 

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