UNITED NATIONS -- Donors led by the United States and European Union on Wednesday (September 22) pledged another $600 million in humanitarian assistance for the people of Yemen during a donor event at the United Nations (UN).
"The United States is providing more than $290 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Yemen," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
"I am grateful to all our partners who also announced contributions today, and I am proud that the United States continues to lead the humanitarian response to this crisis," he said.
The United States has provided nearly $806 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen since the beginning of fiscal year 2021, he noted, and more than $4 billion in total since the crisis began in 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthis overran Sanaa.
The aid helps to provide food, health, water, sanitation, hygiene, shelter, protection and education for internally displaced and conflict-affected Yemenis, as well as for refugee populations and asylum seekers in Yemen, Blinken said.
"Our assistance also supports prevention and treatment of malnutrition, rehabilitation of water systems to provide safe drinking water, providing shelter supplies and hygiene items to help keep people healthy and protect against COVID-19, and helping families earn an income and rebuild their livelihoods."
The European Union promised €119 million ($140 million). Oxfam said around $600 million was pledged in total, although the UN plea for $3.9 billion to help Yemen was still underfunded by around $1 billion.
Humanitarian aid is not enough
"Humanitarian assistance makes a critical difference in people's lives, but it alone cannot resolve this crisis," Blinken said.
"The United States remains committed to an inclusive, UN-led peace process to achieve a durable resolution to the conflict for all Yemenis," he said.
He noted that senior US officials, including special envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking, continue to work closely with the UN and key regional and international partners to bring an end to the war.
"We call on all parties to engage without pre-conditions with new UN special envoy Hans Grundberg and with each other, and to take meaningful steps to end a war which has gone on too long and has claimed too many lives," he said.
"We have an opportunity to achieve peace in Yemen, and we must seize it."
World Food Programme (WFP) executive director David Beasley welcomed the new pledges but said the UN agency still did not have enough to support the 12.9 million people dependent on aid, which is nearly half the country.
WFP expects it will need to cut rations for 3.2 million people in October and more in December, he said.
While donations have averted widespread famine, every 10 minutes a child in Yemen is dying from preventable causes, according to the UN.
"We are predicting that if we don't receive the funds that we need in the next six months -- which is $800 million -- when we start cutting rations, you could actually see that number go to 400,000 children under age five dying in the next year," Beasley said.
He stressed that the priority needed to be on ending the war.