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After first-hand visit to besieged Yemeni city of Taiz, senior UN official calls for unlimited access for aid

23 January 2016 – Senior United Nations humanitarian officials today called on the authorities and various factions in war-torn Yemen to allow sustained access into the besieged central city of Taiz after seeing first-hand the desperate state of its inhabitants, who lack critical medical supplies, food and other basic needs for survival.

"I witnessed the impact of conflict, particularly on civilian infrastructure and saw the difficulties people are facing," UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said on his return to Sana'a, the capital, from a visit with senior UN officials to Taiz and Ibb Governorates, and in particular to three districts of Taiz city where access has been difficult for many months.

"Only a few shops are open. Food and other basic goods needed to survive are in short supply. Basic services are scarce, including access to water and fuel. I visited the Al Thawra Hospital, which has been repeatedly hit. Like other health facilities in Yemen, it has not been spared by this conflict and should be protected against attacks under international humanitarian law.

"The hospital, one of the few functioning health facilities in the enclave, is critically short of medical supplies. Medical personnel in Taiz, as is the case elsewhere in Yemen, continues to work despite the dangers they face, often unpaid and with meagre resources. Everywhere I went I saw the trauma the conflict is causing to the women, men, and children, who have been living in this enclave and under these conditions for months."

In recent weeks the UN has made repeated calls to all sides to allow humanitarian access to Taiz and all other besieged areas throughout the country where civilians have been deprived of the basic necessities of life, a demand Mr. McGoldrick reiterated today.

"I appeal to authorities and groups to work with the United Nations to establish a mechanism that will allow regular and sustained access of these goods and more into the city of Taiz," he said. "The United Nations is committed to help the people in need in Taiz and Ibb, as well as all those who require humanitarian assistance throughout Yemen.

"I appeal to all parties to the conflict in Yemen to observe international humanitarian law and provide humanitarian access as well as refrain from targeting civilian infrastructure," he added, thanking all sides for allowing his visit to take place and for the discussions he had to reach people in need.

UN agencies have been able to get some emergency supplies into Taiz in recent weeks and Mr. McGoldrick noted that he saw some food, cooking gas, and other commodities being brought into the city.

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