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  24 Nov 2021, 09:57

Yemen war will have killed 377,000 by year's end: UN

  DUBAI, Nov 24, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Yemen's seven-year-old war will have
claimed 377,000 lives by the end of the year, through both direct and
indirect impacts, a UN agency estimated in a report published Tuesday.

  Nearly 60 percent of deaths will have been caused by indirect impacts such
as lack of safe water, hunger and disease, it said, suggesting that fighting
will have directly killed over 150,000 people.

  Most of those killed by the war's indirect effects are "young children who
are especially vulnerable to under- and malnutrition," said the UN
Development Programme report.

  "In 2021, a Yemeni child under the age of five dies every nine minutes
because of the conflict."

  A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in early 2015 to shore up the
government after Iran-backed Huthi fighters seized the capital Sanaa months
before.

  Fighting since then has had "catastrophic effects on the nation's
development", said the report.

  The UNDP has warned in the past that the war in Yemen, already the poorest
country in the region, had thrown its development back by over two decades.

  The Yemen war is often labelled the greatest humanitarian disaster in the
world.

  Projecting the impact of continued fighting into the future, the UNDP
warned that 1.3 million people in total will have died by 2030.

  "A growing proportion of those deaths will occur... due to second-order
impacts that the crisis is waging on livelihoods, food prices and the
deterioration of basic services such as health and education."

  - 'Downward spiral' -

  If the war stopped now, the UNDP report said, there would be "hope for a
brighter future in Yemen" which could achieve middle-income status by 2050.

  But it judged that, for now, "the situation continues to propel in a
downward spiral".

  Escalating fighting, including tank battles and regular bombardment by both
fighter jets and drones, have in some areas destroyed even the most basic
infrastructure.

  In recent weeks fighting has escalated on several fronts, mostly near the
strategic Marib city, the internationally-recognised government's last major
stronghold in Yemen's oil-rich north.

  Thousands of rebels and pro-government fighters have been killed in the
battle for the city.

  The UN refugee agency, in separate comments Tuesday, said it was "gravely
concerned about the safety and security of civilians in Yemen's Marib
governorate, including more than one million people who are estimated to be
displaced".

  Some 40,000 people have been forced to flee in Marib since September, said
UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo in Geneva.

  "Health conditions such as acute watery diarrhea, malaria and upper
respiratory tract infections are common among the newly displaced," she said.

  - 'Worst disaster' -

  "We've not witnessed this much desperation in Marib in the last two years
as we have in the last two months," said the International Organization for
Migration's Yemen chief of mission, Christa Rottensteiner.

  The governorate's 137 displacement sites have seen a nearly ten-fold
increase in new arrivals since September, the IOM said in a statement
Wednesday.

  "We're now seeing, at times, up to 40 people with no choice but to share
one small tent," said Rottensteiner.

  The Huthis this month also seized a large area south of Hodeida, a Red Sea
port where the warring sides agreed on a ceasefire in 2018, after loyalist
forces withdrew.

  UNDP administrator Achim Steiner said that "millions of Yemenis continue to
suffer from the conflict, trapped in poverty and with little possibility for
jobs and livelihoods".

  More than 80 percent of the population of around 30 million require
humanitarian assistance, the report said, while "the economy is close to
collapse".

  "Yemen is the world's worst and largest humanitarian and development
disaster, and it is continuing to worsen."

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