World powers pledge more financial support for Yemen at a special UN event with the EU Commission committing US$172 million, the largest funding amount from Brussels to the war-ravaged country since the conflict started.
“Yemen may have receded from the headlines, but the human suffering has not relented. For seven years and counting, the Yemeni people have been confronting death, destruction, displacement, starvation, terror, division and destitution on a massive scale,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during the opening of the event that was co-hosted by Sweden and Switzerland.
“Tens of thousands of civilians, including at least 10,000 children, have died. For millions of internally displaced people, life is a daily struggle for survival. The economy has reached new depths of despair.”
Guterres added: “The war in Ukraine will only make all of that even worse with skyrocketing prices for food, fuel and other essentials.”
Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed said his people can “no longer tolerate” the situation, with stifling economic and humanitarian crises causing the “window of hope” to close.
He added that life-saving UN aid has prevented the country from “slipping into famine,” and that any reductions in funding would increase pressures and challenges facing the Yemeni people.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “I hope that each of us takes a minute … and tries to put ourselves into their (Yemenis’) shoes … and maybe think about what that means and maybe find some additional motivation for action.”
He added that it is “particularly difficult” to support Yemen when “the spotlight moves elsewhere.”
Describing the “dire time” for the country, he said 17 million Yemenis need food assistance, and that figure could rise to 19 million this year.
Blinken detailed the threats of malnutrition and rising humanitarian needs, lamenting the falling support from international partners.
Food rations have been cut, and Blinken urged UN partners to think about how this will affect Yemenis.
He announced US$585 million in new humanitarian aid to Yemen, bringing the total support from the US to US$4.5 billion since the start of the conflict.
Money is important, Blinken said, but more support is needed from the UN and other donors to “step up and do their part.”
He added: “Humanitarian support is one side of the equation. This does not work in the absence of peace. As long as the conflict goes on, so will the humanitarian crisis. In order to really deal with (the humanitarian crisis), we need to resolve the conflict.”
The US condemned “escalating attacks by the Houthis,” including cross-border attacks on Saudi and Emirati civilians. Blinken also condemned attacks on humanitarian staff in Yemen.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, told the conference that Saudi Arabia has provided over US$19 billion in aid to Yemen, and that the Kingdom is committed to achieving peace in its southern neighbor.
“The Kingdom will continue to provide support to Yemen … in coordination with UN and local partners,” he said.
Last year, countries via the UN donated US$2.3 billion to Yemen’s Humanitarian Response Plan.
This support meant that some 12 million people received life-saving assistance every month in 2021.
The updated Humanitarian Response Plan includes “coordinated, well-designed programs” to reach 17.3 million people through US$4.27 billion in aid funding, which the UN hopes to receive during the pledging event. (Source: Arab News)