COVID-19 crisis: $1.35bn aid pledged for Yemen in Saudi-UN joint conference

June 4, 2020

Amid the battle against Coronavirus, war-torn Yemen is currently dealing with the world’s worst humanitarian crises. In a bid to assist Yemen in the crisis, the United Nations organized a virtual humanitarian fundraising summit in partnership with Saudi Arabia, hoping to raise $2.4 billion to sustain relief programs for the country till the next six months. As per media reports, international donors have pledged $1.35 billion of aid for Yemen during the virtual humanitarian event on Tuesday.

With Saudi Arabia pledging $500 million aid package, Britain has offered support worth $200 million to Yemen. Germany has also promised $140 million in assistance.UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his opening statement, asserted that humanitarian assistance is facing a race against time in Yemen. He further extended gratitude towards Saudi Arabia for its continued commitment to the humanitarian aid to the people of the war-torn country. Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed also thanked the Kingdom for its efforts and contribution towards the Yemeni population in recent years.

However, Aaron Brent, CARE Yemen Country Director, expressed disappointment over the low amount of funds received during the conference. $1.35 billion pledged by international donor is just over half (56 percent) of the $2.4 billion expected for the welfare of the country.
“The funds pledged by international donors today fall short of the requirements, and are a blow to the millions of Yemenis who depend on humanitarian aid for their lives and livelihoods. We urgently need these pledges to be honoured. This will make the difference between life and death, especially those who lack the simplest of things – clean water and soap, which so many of us take for granted,” Aaron Brent said, speaking in the matter.

The aid will be employed in funding several humanitarian programs in Yemen that have been providing medical supplies and other essential commodities to the needy population during the difficult times. Notably, 75% of UN welfare programs for Yemeni populations were feared to be shut down due to exhausting funds. Due to a lack of financial support, the World Food Programme was also forced to cut its rations in half that has led to an increase in malnourishment among millions of children in the country. In a report on May 26, the WFP had stated that UN humanitarian aid projects to Yemen are reaching a breaking point, adding that at least $870 million is required for continued assistance to millions of vulnerable people for the next six months.

The prolonging war in Yemen has resulted in the killing of thousands of people, deteriorating the public healthcare system in the country. Furthermore, Cholera and severe malnutrition continue to severely threaten the lives of millions of children. More than two-third of the population is in dire need of basic hygiene and sanitation facilities, which is crucially essential amid global health pandemic and surging risks of water-and mosquito-borne diseases. Almost four million people have been facing forced displacement due to the ongoing crises. Reports have suggested that the mortality rate from COVID-19 in Yemen’s Aden is among the highest in the world. While official records by the Yemeni government show only a few COVID-19 cases, the UN has maintained that the pandemic transmission has spread across majority parts of the country.

Reportedly, shortage of funding is prominently due to Iran-backed Houthi militias interference in the process. Earlier this year, the United States cut down its aid to Yemen due to obstructions by the Houthis rebels.

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