UN-sponsored Yemen conference generates $2.6 billion in pledges
LONDON - In a much needed effort to ease the suffering of the Yemeni people enduring the ramifications of an almost four-year civil war, the United Nations held a donor conference in Geneva today, seeking $4 billion from its members for its work in Yemen.
War-battered Yemen is facing the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with some 24 million people, or four-fifths of the country's total population, requiring aid and protection.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said pledges of donations for humanitarian work have reached $2.6 billion, led by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which each pledged $500 million in humanitarian assistance. According to the UN secretary-general, 30% more was pledged this year than in similar donors' conference last year.
"An additional $500 million will be allocated to support humanitarian action in Yemen," said Reem Al Hashimy, the UAE's minister of state for international cooperation, according to Abu Dhabi’s The National
Al Hashimy also highlighted that the UAE previously pledged $930 million to Yemen and provided an addition $70 million to UNICEF.
Saudi Arabia's pledge brings their total contribution to Yemen since 2014 over $14 billion.
"It is my pleasure to announce today the Kingdom's donation to the amount of $500 million in support of the United Nations' Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019," Abdullah Al Rabeeah, supervisor general at King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre said at the conference in Geneva.
In total, the UN estimates that more than 24 million people, or 80% of the population, need assistance, including two million people who are affected by the humanitarian crisis in the past year alone.
“Two million girls, boys, women and men in need of lifesaving aid would be a significant emergency on its own,” Guterres said, adding though that “in Yemen, it is a small fraction of an overwhelming humanitarian calamity.”
The donor conference came as the UN said it had reached food aid warehouses on the frontlines in Yemen for the first time since September.
“I have just received a piece of good news. Finally, it was possible for us to reach the Red Sea Mills,” Guterres said at the conference in Geneva.
“Today, for the first time since September, a World Food Programme team was able to reach the site of the Red Sea Mills, which holds 51,000 metric tonnes of grain, which is enough to feed more than 3.7 million people for a month,” Herve Verhoosel, spokesman for the UN’s World Food Programme told Agence France-Presse.
“We do not yet have the technical results from today’s evaluation, but we hope to be able to begin using this site again as soon as possible,” he added.