World powers pledge financial support to Yemen at UN event

LONDON: A special UN event for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen saw world powers pledge increased financial support to the country and condemn the Iran-backed Houthi militia for its attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates .

Opening the event, attended by Arab News and co-hosted by Sweden and Switzerland, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “Yemen may have disappeared from the headlines, but the suffering human has not ceased. For seven years and more, the Yemeni people have faced death, destruction, displacement, starvation, terror, division and misery on a massive scale.

“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 desperation.

António Guterres added: “The war in Ukraine will only make all of this worse with soaring prices for food, fuel and other basic necessities.

The European Commission has committed $172 million for the funding commitment, the largest amount of funding from Brussels to Yemen since the start of the conflict.

Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed said his people could “no longer tolerate” the situation, with the stifling economic and humanitarian crises causing the “window of hope” to close.

He added that life-saving UN aid has prevented the country from “falling into famine” and that any funding cuts would increase the pressures and challenges facing the Yemeni people.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “I hope each of us will take a minute…and try to put ourselves in our (Yemeni) shoes…and maybe think about what it means and maybe find additional motivation to act.

He added that it is “particularly difficult” to support Yemen when “the spotlight shifts elsewhere”.

Describing the “difficult times” for the country, he said 17 million Yemenis needed food aid, and the figure could rise to 19 million this year.

Blinken detailed threats of malnutrition and growing humanitarian needs, lamenting declining support from international partners.

Food rations have been reduced and Blinken urged UN partners to consider how this will affect Yemenis.

He announced $585 million in new humanitarian assistance to Yemen, bringing total U.S. support to $4.5 billion since the conflict began.

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. It doesn’t work in the absence of peace. As long as the conflict lasts, the humanitarian crisis will also last. In order to really deal with (the humanitarian crisis), we have to resolve the conflict.

The United States condemned “the escalation of Houthi attacks”, including cross-border attacks on Saudi and Emirati civilians. Blinken also condemned the attacks on humanitarian personnel in Yemen.

UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie also made an appeal during the pledge event, urging governments to seize the opportunity to act and support the Yemeni people.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, told the conference that Saudi Arabia had provided more than $19 billion in aid to Yemen and that the Kingdom was committed to achieve peace in its southern neighbour.

“The Kingdom will continue to provide support to Yemen…in coordination with the UN and local partners,” he said.

Last year, countries via the UN donated $2.3 billion to Yemen’s humanitarian response plan.

Thanks to this support, some 12 million people received life-saving assistance each month in 2021.

The updated humanitarian response plan includes “coordinated and well-designed programmes” to reach 17.3 million people with $4.27 billion in aid funding, which the UN hopes to receive during the engagement event.

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