Human Rights

UN raises $2.6 billion at Yemen donor conference

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


Fatima Hadi, a 12-year-old displaced Yemeni girl suffering from acute malnutrition, is weighed at a hospital in Yemen's north-western Hajjah province, on February 25th. [Essa Ahmed/AFP]

The UN said Tuesday (February 26th) a donor conference in Geneva has raised $2.6 billion in pledges out of the $4.2 billion needed to address the humanitarian crisis in war-torn Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE topped the list of supporters of the humanitarian response plan, with each country pledging $500 million.

This brings Saudi Arabia's contribution to humanitarian assistance in Yemen to more than $14 billion since 2014.

Kuwait, meanwhile, pledged $250 million, the UK $262 million and the US $24 million.

The total volume of the pledges saw a 30% increase over donations announced last year, which totaled $2.01 billion.

The war in Yemen between the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) and the Saudi-backed government has caused a humanitarian emergency of catastrophic proportions, according to the UN.

On Tuesday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who described the situation in Yemen as "an overwhelming humanitarian calamity" with some 10 million people on the verge of famine, hailed the generosity of donor states.

"Today's pledging conference can be considered a success," he said.

The news of the pledges came on the same day as the UN announced its teams had finally reached vital food aid warehouses on Yemen's frontlines.

The UN had since September been unable to reach the Red Sea Mills grain warehouses in the port city of al-Hodeidah, estimated to hold enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month.

A spokesman for the UN's World Food Programme told AFP Tuesday that an evaluation mission reached the warehouses near al-Hodeidah.

"We hope to be able to begin using this site again as soon as possible," Herve Verhoosel said.

The mission follows an agreement struck on February 17th, in which the sides in Yemen's conflicts agreed to redeploy their fighters outside the ports and away from areas crucial to the humanitarian relief effort.

International support for Yemen 'imperative'

"We are happy with the volume of pledges which amounted to $2.6 billion," said Zaid al-Alaya, Yemen public information officer for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The funds will help achieve the goals of humanitarian response in Yemen, he told Al-Mashareq.

The door is still open for other donors to announce their pledges, he said, especially as the humanitarian response plan for 2019 has called on the international community to provide $4.2 billion to Yemen.

There are about 10 million people in Yemen on the verge of famine and 24 million others in need of assistance, al-Alaya said.

"This makes it imperative for the international community to provide more support and assistance to the victims of the war in Yemen," he said.

"The volume of pledges on the first day is encouraging," said Deputy Minister for Human Rights Nabil Abdul-Hafeez.

Yemen is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in terms of the threat of famine, the outbreak of diseases and the numbers of displaced people, he told Al-Mashareq.

"This is in addition to the deterioration of health and educational services, especially in Houthi-controlled provinces," he said.

The 2019 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan has five strategic objectives: helping millions of destitute Yemenis overcome hunger; reducing outbreaks of cholera and infectious diseases; promoting the dignity of displaced families; reducing the risk of displacement and violence against civilians; and preserving the capacity of public sector institutions to deliver life-saving basic services.

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