CAIRO: At a pledging conference on Monday, the United Nations is requesting $4.3 billion to help millions of people in Yemen, where an eight-year civil war has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in history.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, more than 21 million people, or two-thirds of the population, need assistance and protection in Yemen “shocking.” More than 17 million people are regarded as being especially vulnerable among the underprivileged.
“Yemen’s citizens merit our assistance. However, they also deserve a chance to rebuild their communities and nation, as well as an effective way to end the ongoing conflict “Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, addressed the donors.
The United Nations, Sweden, and Switzerland are co-hosting the high-level event at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock announced her nation will contribute 120 million euros ($127 million) in her first pledge on Monday.
“The world has almost completely turned a blind eye to this terrible humanitarian catastrophe, she told reporters in Geneva.
According to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the United States gave Yemen $1.1 billion in humanitarian aid last year “hundreds of millions more” in additional aid to the most underdeveloped nation in the Arab world this week.
He urged donors to increase their donations in order to meet the humanitarian needs in Yemen, citing the funding shortfalls experienced the previous year that forced U.N. agencies to scale back operations, including the provision of food rations for thousands of families.
“The size of the problem we are facing is intimidating. But I implore everyone to maintain our attention on the people we want to assist,” he said to the conference.
Abolishing restrictions on humanitarian workers and operations was another demand made by Blinken, particularly in Houthi-controlled areas where the rebels limit the movement of female aid workers by requiring them to travel with male guardians.
The $2.2 billion that the United Nations received in 2022 to fund its humanitarian program in Yemen is almost doubled by the $4.3 billion appeal for 2023. For 2022, the U.N. had requested $4.27 billion.
The conference on Monday takes place as the year-long Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to roil the world economy. Worldwide inflation rates have increased over the past year, forcing many governments to prioritize meeting the needs of their own citizens.
The Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran, overran much of northern Yemen in 2014, sparking the start of the country’s conflict. Months later, in early 2015, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States intervened in an effort to drive out the rebels and reinstate the internationally recognized government.
Over 150,000 people have died in the conflict since it turned into a regional proxy war in recent years, including over 14,500 civilians. Additionally, the war has triggered a terrible humanitarian crisis that has left millions of people without access to food and medical care and brought the nation dangerously close to famine.
The warring parties are still maintaining a shaky informal cease-fire as the conference is being held. After the parties failed to extend an October truce brokered by the U.N., efforts are being made to declare a new truce.
“By extending and renewing the cease-fire, we have a real chance this year to alter Yemen’s course and bring about peace, according to U.N. chief Antonio Guterres.
The cease-fire, which went into effect in April, gave Yemenis some relief, particularly in regions controlled by the Houthis. It made it possible for commercial traffic to recommence at the seaport of Hodeida and the airport in Sanaa.
However, the country is plagued by an economic crisis in part due to the territorial division, with roughly half of Yemen under Houthi control and the other half under government control. According to the U.N. Panel of Experts looking into the conflict in Yemen, there is a dual monetary system, a dual exchange rate, restrictions on imports, and double taxation on goods. According to the panel’s report, food prices increased by 58% and annual inflation reached 45%.
A significant source of revenue for the government, oil export has been disrupted as a result of Houthi attacks on oil facilities in areas controlled by the government.
The nation’s civilian infrastructure, including its healthcare system, has been completely destroyed by the war. Attacks on hospitals and other medical facilities have occurred frequently.
“To successfully prevent the potential collapse of its healthcare system, Yemen needs urgent and strong support from international donors and other partners, according to Adham Ismail, the WHO representative in Yemen.
According to him, $392 million would be required for WHO-led operations in 2023 to guarantee that health facilities continue to operate and provide “the 12.9 million most vulnerable individuals even the most fundamental services.”
The suffering has increased due to climate change. Yemen is a country in the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula “a global climate crisis, as natural disasters such as floods and arid weather threaten lives, according to the U.N.