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U.N. seeks $447 million for Yemen, Gulf Arabs urged to help more

National Yemen

Soldiers use heavy machinery to remove the detested barriers

National Yemen

The United Nations appealed on Sunday for nearly $450 million in humanitarian aid for conflict-torn Yemen to save it from becoming what one U.N. official called “another Somalia.”

Yemen will need substantial humanitarian assistance over the next three to five years, especially for food, health care, sanitation and clean water, U.N. agencies and other relief groups working in Yemen said at a conference in Dubai.

“The Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan 2012 is seeking $447 million. This represents an increase of 95 percent compared to one year ago,” they said, adding the money would be targeted to help around 4 million vulnerable people.

Almost a year of protests against outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh has brought Yemen’s economy close to collapse, worsening already dire living conditions for many people who face acute shortages of fuel, food, water and electricity.

“The situation is dramatic. If we don’t act now, we hit a humanitarian disaster soon,” said Geert Cappelaere, representative of the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Yemen.

“If we don’t act now, Yemen will become another Somalia from a humanitarian perspective.”

Cappelaere said more than 30 percent of Yemeni children were acutely malnourished.
“In general, when you have 15 percent of under-five-year-olds that are acutely malnourished, we call that a nutrition emergency. In Yemen, you have twice the emergency level.”

By MARTINA FUCHS
REUTERS DUBAI