Entries in Humanitarian Efforts (2)


Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis Grows as Violence Increases

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Yemen is not only one of the most dangerous countries in the world, it’s also home to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, according to the grim numbers offered Monday by State Department officials.

Nearly 40 percent of the country -- 10 million people -- don’t have regular access to food and one million children under the age of 5 suffer from acute malnutrition.  More than half a million Yemenis have fled their homes because of increased violence and the country is coping with nearly 300,000 refugees from Somalia and the Horn of Africa.

Yemen has not had a proper government for nearly a year, since the fall of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, causing the country’s already precarious humanitarian situation to deteriorate further, while providing an opportunity for violence and extremism to increase.

ABC’s Martha Raddatz reported from inside Yemen, where U.S. officials told her al Qaeda is digging in and attempting to take control of large swaths of the country. The terrorist group made its presence known Monday in a deadly suicide bombing that targeted Yemeni soldiers who are training to fight insurgents.

“The suicide bombing overnight that killed nearly 100 people -- and up to 300 are injured -- is just a reminder to us of how much work remains to be done, how vital it is to help the Yemeni government rebuild its political and economic institutions following a year of unrest,” said Kelley Clements, the State Department deputy assistant secretary for population, refugees and migration.

On the security side, the United States has increased its drone use and support of Yemen’s military, but has also ramped up its humanitarian aid. The United States is providing more than $73 million of humanitarian assistance to Yemen, which is being used for food aid, food vouchers, water and sanitation programs, and medical clinics.

State Department officials say humanitarian aid, not only from the United States but from other countries as well, has to be part of the strategy to stabilize Yemen and fight extremism.

“The comprehensive strategy that we’re trying to implement … really emphasizes governance and economic development as much as the security issues,” Clements said.

A Friends of Yemen meeting, which includes a group of Persian Gulf and European countries along with the United States, is set for this week in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The group will discuss continuing support for Yemen’s political transition in light of the growing security and humanitarian problems.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


UN Seeks to Assess Humanitarian Situation in Libya

MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The United Nations says the Libyan government has agreed to a cessation of hostilities in “areas they control” near the besieged rebel-held city of Misrata so U.N. teams can enter and assess the humanitarian situation.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says it's not clear yet if that means forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi will halt the daily shelling and rocketing of rebels in the city once the humanitarian teams are there.  The U.N. says it needs at least two days to conduct the assessment.

The International Organization for Migration reports 970 refugees managed to escape the besieged city on a ship that docked Monday in Benghazi.  Doctors and nurses working for the IOM described the situation in Misrata as dire, with as many as 50 people being killed or wounded by the fighting each day.

Misrata has been under siege by Gadhafi loyalists for nearly two months.  An IOM spokeswoman says the situation is deteriorating hour by hour, with shelling almost non-stop.

The port city is vital to the rebel offensive because it’s one of the few areas of the country where they have access to the sea in order to obtain supplies and weapons shipments, mostly from Qatar.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Phil Gordon says NATO is committed to keeping the heat on Gadhafi until he stops firing on civilians, relinquishes territories obtained by force and allow humanitarian aid into the region.  The Pentagon confirmed Monday that the United States is continuing to enforce a no-fly zone inside Libya and conducted two F-16 strikes against a radar installation and a surface-to-air missile site on Sunday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio