“Yemen is the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis,” declared Janez Lenarčič, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, on Wednesday, prior to a Senior Officials Meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
The meeting that was hosted in Brussels by the Commission and Sweden heard that while both sides have been hindering humanitarian and UN agencies from providing assistance, the Huthi attempts to tax shipments triggered the latest crisis.
Lenarčič urged parties in the conflict to respect the rules of war and guarantee “safe and unimpeded access to humanitarian organisations”.
“The humanitarian space in Yemen has reached a breaking point where delivery of life-saving assistance is at risk, Lenarčič said in a joint statement with Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, Peter Eriksson.
The two officials said that the humanitarian community has pledged to “recalibrate humanitarian assistance, including a downscaling, or even interruption, of certain operations, if and where delivery of humanitarian aid in accordance with the humanitarian principles is impossible.”
Yemen has been beset by violence during fighting between the Iran-backed Huthi group based in Sanaa and the Saudi-backed government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Obstruction by the rebel Huthi authorities in northern Yemen has put the world’s biggest humanitarian lifeline at risk, threatening millions with starvation. According to the UN, more than 14 million Yemenis are at risk of starvation.
“We must not allow our work to be politicized or militarized by anyone. We must stay and deliver where and when we can. Maximum diplomatic pressure needed,” Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council tweeted on Thursday.