Mark Lowcock, the emergency relief coordinator for the United Nations, said he was not challenging the intent of the U.S. designation of the Houthis but was responding to three questions raised by such a step.
“First, what is the likely humanitarian impact? The answer is a large-scale famine on a scale that we have not seen for nearly 40 years,” Mr. Lowcock told Security Council members. “Second, would licenses and exemptions for aid agencies prevent that? The answer is no,” he said. “Third, well, what would prevent it? A reversal of the decision.”
David M. Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, the anti-hunger agency of the United Nations which won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, was more blunt in his comments, telling Security Council diplomats the designation amounted to “a death sentence to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of innocent people in Yemen.”
Both officials described a drastic need for increased funding of humanitarian aid to Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, where 80 percent of the population of roughly 30 million is in need of outside assistance in large part because of the war.
“Already, about 50,000 people are essentially starving to death in what is essentially a small famine,” Mr. Lowcock said. “Another 5 million are just one step behind them.”