WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. government must take immediate action to address the dire humanitarian crisis in Yemen, according to the global organization Mercy Corps. In testimony to the Tom Lantos House Human Rights Commission on Thursday, Mercy Corps calls on Congress to invest in emergency programs addressing food insecurity and delivering humanitarian assistance, in addition to working to prevent additional civilian casualties and violations of international humanitarian law.
The testimony comes as a proposed cessation of hostilities failed to come to fruition. At least 80 percent of the population – 21.2 million people – urgently needs humanitarian assistance.
"The longer the war rages on, the more the humanitarian crisis will continue to escalate, complicating the path toward long-term stability," says Michael Bowers, Mercy Corps' Vice President for Humanitarian Leadership and Response. In written testimony, he describes a horrific landscape in Yemen where staggering numbers of malnourished children are facing crippling impairments due to widespread food insecurity, nutritional deficits and lack of resources. More than 3 million children and pregnant and lactating mothers are acutely malnourished inside the country.
Moreover, says Bowers, the ongoing economic crisis has created devastating cash shortages and undercut humanitarian programming. Yemenis are struggling, he adds, without access to health care and basic civilian protection.
Mercy Corps recommends a series of immediate actions, including:
Commit $1.6 billion to Food for Peace, in addition to maintaining funding levels for essential humanitarian programs.
Urge the U.S. Treasury and Department of State to work with the Central Bank of Yemen to facilitate the full resumption of core financial functions as soon as possible.
Seek solutions to address delays at Yemen's ports and call on Saudi Arabia to lift the restrictions on commercial flights out of local airports.
Mercy Corps has been working in Yemen since 2010 and has helped more than 1 million people there. Programs across the country's eight governorates address urgent needs such as food insecurity, water, sanitation, nutrition and livelihoods.