Geneva, MINA – Countries pledged more than 2 billion dollars of humanitarian aid to help millions of hungry, displaced and sick people in war-ravaged Yemen, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced Tuesday in Geneva, DPA reported.
Guterres said he was optimistic that further funds would flow throughout the year to help meet the United Nations’ target of 3 billion dollars.
“Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” he said.
After three years of conflict, 22.2 million of 27 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian help.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of the key military players in the war against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, pledged 930 million dollars.
The European Union promised 107.5 million euros (132 million dollars).
Yemen was impoverished even before the war broke out.
Now, nearly 18 million people do not have secure food supplies and more than 8 million are at risk of starvation.
Nearly half of pre-school children are chronically malnourished and suffer from stunting, which hinders their physical and mental development.
People are also suffering because of the fighting, displacement, kidnapping, rape, as well as the collapse of health services and education.
Various government and UN representatives in Geneva urged all parties in the war to refrain from blocking aid, referring to a Saudi embargo on a Yemeni port and access restrictions in nearly all of the country’s districts.
“To save lives on the ground, all parties to the conflict must ensure safe, unhindered and continuous humanitarian access to all affected communities in Yemen,” said Christos Stylianides, the European commissioner for aid.
Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, has been locked in a devastating power struggle since late 2014 that has turned into a regional and religious proxy conflict between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran.
Inside Yemen, the struggle pits the government of President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi against the Houthis, a Shiite rebel group.
In March 2015, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other allies started an air campaign against the Houthis when the rebels started advancing towards Hadi’s southern power seat of Aden.
UAE troops entered Aden in 2015, helping to secure the city, and have been training different militias deployed in areas across southern Yemen.
Saudi Arabia fears that the Houthi rebels will give its regional rival, Shiite Iran, a strategic foothold on the Arabian Peninsula.
Guterres warned that no amount of aid money will be able to end the conflict.
“A negotiated political settlement through inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue is the only solution,” he said.
Guterres reminded the assembled diplomats that Yemen has been showing far more generosity than many richer countries of the world, by taking in large numbers of Somali refugees.
“So it is also our duty to match the generosity of the Yemenis that they have always shown to those in need,” the UN chief said.
In April last year, donor countries pledged 1.1 billion dollars, a sum that subsequently rose to 1.7 billion dollars during 2018. (T/RS5/RS1)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)