The United States will provide $165m in additional humanitarian aid to Yemen, the US’s special envoy to the war-torn country has announced, amid rising concerns about the humanitarian toll of the conflict.
“We are supporting efforts to prevent famine which is again becoming a very real threat,” Tim Lenderking told reporters during a briefing on Monday.
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“The announcement today I hope will generate further announcements.”
Earlier this year, United Nations officials warned that Yemen risks facing the world’s worst famine in decades if donors did not provide $4bn in aid for 2021.
The US assistance will be provided through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which resumed its programmes in Houthi-controlled northern Yemen in March after a nearly one-year pause over allegations of obstruction by the rebel group.
In February, US President Joe Biden announced an end to the country’s support for Saudi-led offensive operations in Yemen and appointed Lenderking as special envoy to help bring an end to the war.
The US envoy has been travelling the region almost monthly and working with his UN counterpart to push for a political solution for the conflict.
“Now is the time to stop the fighting and enable Yemenis to shape a more peaceful, prosperous future for their country,” the US State Department said in a statement announcing a visit by Lenderking to Saudi Arabia last month.
The war in Yemen intensified in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its regional allies launched a military campaign against the Houthis, who had taken over the capital Sanaa and expelled the Riyadh-backed government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The violence spurred an enormous humanitarian crisis that has killed at least 233,000 people, according to UN estimates, and left millions on the verge of starvation.
Washington has repeatedly called for easing Saudi-led restrictions on imports and travel into Yemen while condemning Houthi attacks on the Gulf kingdom and the rebels’ ongoing offensive on the strategic city of Marib.
Leading US lawmakers in early May urged the Biden administration to do more and help raise $2.5bn in aid for Yemenis suffering amid what they described as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.
In March, Saudi Arabia offered a nationwide ceasefire in Yemen, but the Houthis rejected the proposal, instead calling for a complete end to the Saudi-led blockade on the country’s ports and Sanaa airport first.
Saudi Arabia says the Houthis are proxies of its regional rival, Iran. But the rebels deny receiving material support from Tehran.
Earlier this month, Swedish diplomat Hans Grundberg replaced Martin Griffiths of the United Kingdom as the UN’s envoy for Yemen. Griffiths was appointed head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.