UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock warned on Thursday that the world body will have to close 31 of its 41 aid programs in Yemen in a few weeks as a result of lack of funds.
“This means we will have to start eliminating many of the activities that may offer Yemenis’ best chance to avoid COVID-19,” Lowcock told the Security Council in a virtual briefing.
The UN Children’s Fund will have to stop immediate assistance for families displaced by conflict or natural disasters. That means up to 1 million displaced people would not receive critical supplies, including hygiene items that help protect against diseases like cholera and COVID-19, he said.
Nutrition programs will also be cut, affecting 260,000 severely malnourished children and 2 million more children with moderate malnutrition. These children’s immune systems will be weakened, making them much more vulnerable to COVID-19, cholera and other diseases, he warned.
People who do fall sick are likely to find fewer clinics to help them. The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of health services provided through the response could stop at the end of April, said Lowcock.
“This could mean disbanding local health teams that have been essential in detecting and containing past disease outbreaks. We need these teams more than ever – not just to keep on top of COVID-19, but to contain a growing risk that cholera will rebound as the rainy season starts.”