UN Humanitarian Chief Warns That Yemen Is 'One Step Way From Famine'
The U.N. humanitarian chief warned Monday that war-torn Yemen is “one step away from famine.”
Stephen O’Brien told the U.N. Security Council that more than 21 million Yemenis – 80 percent of the population – are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance.
O’Brien gave the briefing by telephone from Bahrain, where he has arrived for a 10-day visit that also will include Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. He traveled to Yemen earlier this month.
“Over 2 million people are malnourished nationwide, including 370,000 children who are severely malnourished,” O’Brien said. That is an increase of 65 percent compared to the year before the conflict began.
Food prices have surged 20 percent since fighting began last year, and a Saudi-imposed blockade has impaired food deliveries to a country that pre-conflict imported 90 percent of its food stocks.
Worryingly, cholera is starting to appear, with 61 confirmed cases and 1,700 suspected cases. O’Brien said the United Nations and its humanitarian partners are establishing 21 cholera treatment centers, but that they would be insufficient to stop the escalating spread of the disease. Additionally, the humanitarian chief said more than 10,000 children under the age of five have died from preventable diseases.
The U.N. has classified Yemen as a level three emergency – Syria and Iraq are the only other two humanitarian crises rated this severe.
Italian PM Unveils Plans to Rebuild Central Region Hit by Earthquake
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi unveiled plans Monday to rebuild large swaths of the mountainous central Italy, ravaged by the region's worst earthquake since 1980. Among the key provisions is the promise to provide shipping containers for people to live in while permanent housing is constructed.
Renzi spoke in Rome, as the scope of Sunday's 6.6 magnitude quake became evident, and as emergency workers scrambled to provide immediate aid to thousands of residents already traumatized by smaller temblors last week. The same region was hit 10 weeks ago by a deadly quake that killed hundreds in the small town of Amatrice.
"We will rebuild everything," Renzi vowed, describing the culturally significant areas northeast of Rome as "territories of beauty."
No deaths or serious injuries have been reported, largely, authorities say, because so many residents of the region were relocated after the August 24 earthquake that rocked Amatrice. However, an estimated 15,000 were left homeless.
The epicenter of Sunday's quake was 70 kilometers southwest of the central city of Perugia and close to the town of Norcia, where already skittish residents saw churches and the 14th century Basilica of St. Benedict heavily damaged on Sunday. An estimated 4,000 people in and around Norcia have been relocated to hotels on the Adriatic coast, where they joined more than 1,000 others still displaced by the Amatrice quake in August.
Renzi said the shipping containers will be in place by December, and he said residents can expect to have new wooden house construction completed by mid-2017.