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Published:March 7th, 2012 18:06 EST

UN: Yemen Must Address Humanitarian Concerns

By SOP newswire3

Following a successful presidential election last month, Yemen must continue making progress in its transition process to address a growing humanitarian crisis as well as a precarious security situation, the United Nations envoy to the country said today.

On 21 February, thousands of Yemenis headed to the polls to vote in presidential elections, which resulted in the victory of Abbed Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi. The Secretary-General`s Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, who has been working closely with Yemeni authorities to implement a transition roadmap, congratulated the country on the high turnout, calling it an important development in the country.

Turnout was much higher than many people had expected and many youth participated and voted for the new president, " Mr. Benomar told reporters in New York following a closed-door session with the Security Council. President Hadi now has a strong mandate to lead this transition. "

Mr. Benomar, who recently visited Yemen, said that a new phase in the transition process is starting and stressed that there are many challenges laying ahead, including the organization of a national dialogue conference, constitution reform as well as reform of the electoral system, and organization of general elections by the end of the transition period in two years.

In his briefing to the Council, the envoy highlighted the economic, security and political challenges ahead. In particular, he expressed concern about Al-Qaida controlling certain regions in the southern part of the country.

In the long months of the crisis, the State lost control as it collapsed in a number of areas around the country, benefiting Al-Qaida, and this is now going to be a major challenge in this new phase, " he said.

Mr. Benomar also emphasized that there is a growing humanitarian crisis in the country as 6.8 million Yemenis experience food insecurity, with three million in need of immediate assistance. Yemen also has the second highest rate of chronic malnutrition in children in the world after Afghanistan.

The envoy called on the international community to support Yemen in this time of need, both in the humanitarian front and also for Yemen`s economic recovery. " Currently the $446 million humanitarian appeal for the country is funded at only 15 per cent.