International donors pledge $2bn for Yemen at UN event

UN chief Antonio Guterres welcomes financial aid as Yemen’s foreign minister urges talks to end three-year war.

Participants of the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen attend a news conference, in Geneva
A pledging event in Geneva was co-chaired by the UN, Sweden and Switzerland [Pierre Albouy/Reuters]

International donors have pledged more than $2bn in humanitarian aid to provide life-saving assistance and protection to the people of Yemen bearing the brunt of a deadly conflict now its fourth year.

Forty countries and organisations committed to donate $2.01bn on Tuesday during a pledging event in the Swiss city of Geneva, which was cochaired by the UN, Sweden and Switzerland.

The UN and its humanitarian partners had launched an appeal for $2.96bn to mobilise urgently needed resources for millions affected across the Arabian Peninsula country.

A similar conference last year raised $1.1bn in aid.

Antonio Guterres, UN secretary-general, who was present at the one-day conference, praised the fundraising event, but said more needs to be done by all the parties involved.

“This pledging conference represents a remarkable success of international solidarity to the people of Yemen,” Guterres said.

“Humanitarian resources are very important, but they are not enough.

“We need unrestricted access everywhere inside Yemen and we need all the parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law, and to protect civilians.

“Above all, we need a serious political process to lead to a political solution.”

This year, the UN and its partners’ “Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan” (YHRP) requires $2.96bn for life-saving assistance to 13 million people and other support.

Isabella Lovin, Sweden’s deputy prime minister and cohost of the Geneva event, said despite the funding, “lack of humanitarian access remains a key obstacle to organisations working in Yemen.

“Humanitarian aid alone cannot be the response to the growing needs of the Yemeni people endangered by the armed conflict”.

Ueli Maurer, Switzerland’s vice president, said: “A political solution must imperatively be found. Switzerland calls for a cessation of hostilities and invites all parties to join the negotiating table.”

Meanwhile, Yemen’s foreign minister, who was also present at the conference, called for a return to the negotiating table to end the devastating three-year civil war in the country.

“We need to find the ideal solution which is a return to the talks table, to put an end the war, to return to a sustainable system supported by the people of Yemen,” Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi said.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading a military coalition in Yemen fighting Houthi rebels.

The ongoing conflict has led to massive food shortages and the “worst recorded cholera outbreak“, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The UN, which calls Yemen the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis”, says 22.2 million people are in need of aid, while 8.4 million are on the verge of famine.

In November 2017, the Saudi-led coalition eased a three-week-long blockade on rebel-held parts of Yemen, following an international outcry.

However, rights groups say the spectre of mass famine would continue to loom over Yemen.

Source: Al Jazeera