United Nations officials on Thursday warned that conflicts in the country have continued despite a cease-fire as the country braces for a COVID-19 outbreak and funding for support programs has decreased, potentially forcing many to close. Photo courtesy STR/EPA-EFE
April 16 (UPI) -- Combatting forces in Yemen have continued attacks despite a cease-fire as the country faces the threat of a spreading COVID-19 outbreak, U.N. officials warned Thursday.
U.N. Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths told a virtual meeting of the U.N. Security Council that fighting has continued in some areas after the Saudi-led coalition that backs the Yemeni government in the conflict announced a two-week cease-fire on April 8.
"Marib, the governorate of Marib to the east of Sanaa, remains the center of gravity of this war, yet it is not the only theater," Griffiths said. "The sooner we can stop the fighting, the better."
Griffiths said a halt to fighting in Yemen is especially necessary after it reported its first confirmed case of the coronavirus on April 10.
"Yemen cannot face two fronts at the same time: a war and a pandemic," Griffiths said. "The new battle that Yemen faces in confronting the virus will be all-consuming. We can do no less than stop this war and turn all our attention to this new threat."
Mark Lowcock, the U.N. humanitarian relief coordinator told the Security Council that 31 of its 41 programs that provide aid to Yemen may shut down this year after the United Nations' humanitarian fund for Yemen received $800 million, a fraction of the $2.6 billion it received last year.
"This means we will have to start eliminating many of the activities that may offer Yemenis' best chance to avoid COVID-19," Lowcock said.
He added the cuts will include nutrition programs, the loss of which will leave children with weakened immune systems making them more vulnerable to COVID-19 and other diseases.