Saudi Arabia Offers 500 Mln in Aid to Yemen during Donor Conference
Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that it has dedicated in half a billion dollars in aid to Yemen.
Riyadh and the United Nations hosted on Tuesday a virtual donor conference on Yemen. It focused on supporting UN efforts to tackle the humanitarian situation in the war-ravaged country, which the agency says is the worst in the world. Its woes have been compounded by the spread of the coronavirus and other diseases.
The meeting sought to garner 2.4 billion dollars in aid for the world’s greatest relief effort. Donors, however, fell short of the target, mustering 1.35 billion dollars.
Addressing the meeting, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah underscored the Kingdom’s firm stance in backing Yemen and its people. He also expressed its deep gratitude to the UN’s humanitarian efforts through its various agencies in the world, especially in Yemen.
“Saudi Arabia has sought to host this virtual conference despite the extraordinary circumstances the entire world is experiencing due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” he remarked.
He said the participation of various countries, international agencies and non-government organizations reflects their recognition of the importance of raising awareness on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
He stressed the need to declare financial pledges to meet Yemen’s humanitarian needs, blaming the crisis on the coup staged by the Iran-backed Houthi militias against the legitimate authorities.
The Yemeni people have high expectations of from the conference, hoping the urgent donations will help ease their humanitarian, political, military, security and economic challenges, incurred by the inhumane violations committed by the Houthis, he said.
Prince Faisal accused the militias of seizing, looting and imposing levies on humanitarian aid and impeding their delivery to those in need. He also accused them of continuing to reject a political solution to the crisis based on three references - the Gulf initiative, its executive mechanism, national dialogue outcomes and UN Security Council resolution 2216 – as well as relevant resolutions and 2018 Stockholm agreement.
The latest sign of their rejection of peace was their failure to reciprocate when the Saudi-led Arab Coalition declared a nationwide ceasefire in April and their refusal of the UN envoy’s call for them to join direct negotiations with all Yemeni parties, he added.
Saudi Arabia is committed in backing all UN efforts to reach a sustainable political solution to the crisis, said Prince Faisal. The Kingdom has since 2014 provided more than 16 billion dollars in aid to Yemen, including humanitarian projects carried out by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) and the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY).
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres thanked Saudi Arabia for hosting this vital conference, saying Yemen is grappling with difficult economic and humanitarian conditions, which have been made worse by the coronavirus outbreak.
"Tackling COVID-19 on top of the existing humanitarian emergency requires urgent action," he added. "We are in a race against time.”
Britain stepped in with a new aid package for Yemen worth £160 million ($200 million).
"This targeted UK aid package will mean the difference between life and death for thousands of Yemenis, who now also face the threat of coronavirus," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.
Germany announced 125 million euros ($139.8 million) in assistance to Yemen.
Mark Lowcock, UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, said $180 million of the required funding was needed to combat the fast-spreading virus.