UN Raises $2.6 Billion for Yemen Crisis, But Needs Billions More
About 80,000 children under the age of 5 have died of starvation.
The United Nations raised $2.6 billion from international donors for Yemen’s humanitarian crisis on Tuesday, but the country still needs billions more, according to the UN.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that $4 billion is needed to provide food and health resources to all the people affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis, UN officials said, making this the largest-single country appeal from the multilateral organization.
The situation in Yemen has been called the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with more than 22 million people in the country in need of humanitarian assistance. About 17.8 million of those people are food insecure and about 16 million lack access to safe water, sanitation, or adequate health care.
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“Almost 10 million are just one step away from famine,” said Guterres.
Over half of the money pledged on Tuesday came from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which have played a major role in deepening the crisis. Since 2015, the two countries have been lead partners in a coalition that has carried out air strikes against the Houthi rebels that have killed thousands of civilians in Yemen.
While the amount raises is a 30% increase in total pledged donations from last year’s conference, much more needs to be done, the UN said.
About 80,000 children under the age of five have died of starvation in Yemen, and one child dies every 10 minutes from a preventable disease. Over 2 million children are not in school within the region.
"Today Yemen is the worst place on earth for a child," Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, told Al Jazeera. "I invite the parties to think of their own children when they sit at the negotiating table next time."
In addition to the lack of funds, the UN has also had issues delivering aid because of blockades that prevent humanitarian workers from reaching those in need. Food aid has also been intercepted by Houthi rebels, which stops aid from being properly distributed according to the New York Times.
Guterres announced that the UN recently regained access to the Red Sea Mills, a stockpiling warehouse that could possibly feed about 3.7 million people for up to one month. Since September, this food storage facility has held an estimated 51,000 tons of unused grain. While many feared that the food supply would spoil, officials from the World Food Program inspected the facility and announced that the grain is still useable.
The latest round of aid will go toward emergency food and health care for those in need. The Humanitarian Response Plan for next year still requires double the amount of pledged funds to help 15 million people in need throughout Yemen.