UN seeks $4.3bn in aid for war-torn Yemen

The appeal comes before a donors conference to raise funds to support millions in need of aid after eight years of war.

Displaced Yemenis receive humanitarian aid provided by the World Food Programme in Yemen's northern province of Hajjah [Essa Ahmed/AFP]

The United Nations has called for $4.3bn in humanitarian aid for Yemen, where an eight-year war has left millions of people in urgent need of assistance.

The appeal on Monday comes before a donors conference as UN officials warn, “Record global humanitarian needs are stretching donor support like never before.”

“But without sustained support for the aid operation in Yemen, the lives of millions of Yemenis will hang in the balance, and efforts to end the conflict once and for all will become even more challenging,” the organisation said in a statement.

Wide swathes of Yemen are facing food shortages,with areas of the Marib governorate facing crisis levels and the situation in the northern Hajja governorate expected to worsen given “expectations for gradually re-escalating conflict and large populations of displaced households who are highly dependent on assistance”, according to the US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

The monitor pointed to the high prices of electricity, fuel and gas, driven up bu the ongoing conflict, which has largely remained in a state of “unofficial ceasefire” since a UN-brokered truce expired in October.

The United States announced $444m in aid to Yemen on Monday, saying it was committed to “alleviating the suffering of millions”.

“We urge all donors to give generously to help raise the $4.3 billion the UN will require to provide humanitarian assistance to Yemenis,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “Two-thirds of Yemen’s population – 21.6 million children, women and men – need vital aid.”

Houthi rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, and overthrew the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2014. A short time later, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched a military coalition in support of Hadi.

Eight years of fighting have left hundreds of thousands of people dead, at least 4.3 million people internally displaced, and two-thirds of the country’s population of nearly 33 million in need of humanitarian aid.

The aid community has regularly referred to it as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The most recent truce, which began in April, had raised hopes of a lasting peace, but it expired in October with the parties failing to agree to renew it.

“Building on the momentum from the UN-mediated truce, the parties now have the chance to end this war,” Blinken said on Monday.

“The international community must do everything we can to help – including through strong support to the Yemen humanitarian response – to build further positive momentum and ensure Yemenis see the tangible benefits peace can bring,” he said.

In January, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned, “In the absence of a comprehensive political settlement, continued displacement, the economic situation and lack of capacity of state institutions are likely to remain a key driver of needs.”

UN chief Antonio Guterres, who will attend Monday’s donor conference in Geneva, said in a statement the international community has “the power and the means to end this crisis”.

“And it begins by funding our appeal fully and committing to disbursing funds quickly,” he said in a statement.

Last year, the UN raised more than $2.2bn to enable aid agencies to reach nearly 11 million people across the country every month.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies