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Yemen could be 'worst' humanitarian crisis in 50 years

Yemen could be 'worst' humanitarian crisis in 50 years
From Al Jazeera - January 5, 2018

People in war-tornYemenare facing a situation that "looks like the Apocalypse", the UN's humanitarian chief has told Al Jazeera, warning that the countrycould become the worst humanitarian disaster in half a century.

The Arab world's poorest country has endured nearly three years of war between Houthi rebels and Saudi-backedforces loyal to exiled PresidentAbd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The conflict is having a devastating impact, causing widespread food shortages and a major cholera outbreak as well as leaving millions in need of humanitarian assistance.

"The situation in Yemen - today, right now, to the population of the country - looks like the apocalypse," Mark Lowcock, the UN's under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said on Friday.

"The cholera outbreak is probably the worst the world has ever seen with a million suspected cases up to the end of 2017."

Lowcock said "a terrible new epidemic" of diphtheria, a bacterial disease which should be completely preventable by immunisation, has already "affected up to 500 people with dozens and dozens of deaths" in the past few weeks

"That is going to spread like wildfire," he added.

"Unless the situation changes, we are going to have the world's worst humanitarian disaster for 50 years".

'Desperate situation'

Lowcock's comments came as the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) allocated $50m to bolster the relief effort in Yemen, where more than eight million people are on the brink of famine.

The sum represents the the largest ever allocation made by CERF and reflects the dire situation in Yemen, which was already one of the Arab world's poorest countries before the start of the war in 2015.

Lowcock said the money would help prepare the necessary aid for the year ahead.

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