TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – The UN agency for children said it has distributed cash to nearly 1.5 million families in war-battered Yemen to help avert the risk of famine.
The emergency payout, part of a $200 million World Bank-funded program, comes in the fourth year of a Saudi war that has killed more than 14,000 people, including thousands of women and children, displaced more than 3 million and crippled the country’s infrastructure.
The UN considers Yemen to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22.2 million people in need of assistance.
Geert Cappelaere, the regional director of UNICEF, said the money – an average of $30 per family – reached an estimated 9 million people and allowed families to buy food and medicine for their children, many of them malnourished. It’s the second of three planned payments, with the next round set for August.
“A small amount of cash for the most vulnerable, for the poorest of the poor makes a world of difference,” he said, urging the international community to put a stop to the fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country, AP reported.
The United Nations aid chief last week called on the Saudi-led coalition which controls Yemen’s ports to expedite imports of vital food and fuel supplies, warning that a further 10 million Yemenis could face starvation by year-end.
For several weeks at the end of last year, the coalition imposed a blockade on Yemeni ports which it claimed was to prevent Houthis from importing weapons.
This had a severe impact on Yemen, which traditionally imports 90 percent of its food.
Under international pressure, the coalition purportedly lifted the blockade, but tightened ship inspections.
Key supplies including some needed to combat deadly water-borne disease cholera remain on the prohibited list of imports, Mark Lowcock, UN emergency relief coordinator said.
Yemen’s defenseless people have been under massive attacks by the coalition for more than three years but Riyadh has reached none of its objectives in Yemen so far.
Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out deadly airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.