UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to donors to “contribute generously” to raise $4.27 billion to lift 17.3 million Yemenis out of poverty, destitution, hunger, and disease.
Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdul-Malik, for his part, called on donor countries, organizations, and partners, not to “betray” the Yemenis, stressing that the solution to the humanitarian crisis “lies in stopping the catastrophic war” ignited by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia.
Guterres’ appeal came during an aid conference for Yemen, co-hosted by Sweden, Switzerland, and the UN in New York on Wednesday, to cover the needs for the implementation of the Humanitarian Response Plan.
Guterres said the plan includes “coordinated, well-designed programs to reach 17.3 million people [with] $4.27 billion in assistance.” The UN received only $1.3 billion in pledges, according to Reuters.
Addressing the conference, Guterres said: “Your pledges are an essential lifeline for the people of Yemen. Last year, you contributed over $2.3 billion to Yemen’s Humanitarian Response Plan. Because of your generosity, nearly 12 million people received life-saving assistance every month in 2021.”
He continued: “Yemen may have receded from the headlines, but the human suffering has not relented. For seven years and counting the Yemeni people have been confronting death, destruction, displacement, starvation, terror, division, and destitution on a massive scale. Tens of thousands of civilians — including at least 10,000 children — have died. For millions of internally displaced people, life is a daily struggle for survival.”
The UN secretary-general warned against further deterioration of the humanitarian situation, stressing that Yemen’s economy has “reached new depths of despair.”
“The war in Ukraine will only make all of that even worse with skyrocketing prices for food, fuel, and other essentials. Millions are facing extreme hunger, and the World Food Program had to cut rations in half due to the lack of funds. Further cuts are looming. This is a tragedy. Two in three Yemenis — 20 million men, women, and children — live in extreme poverty,” he said.
Guterres called on the donors to contribute generously, noting that the funding will provide nutrition to almost 7 million people; water, sanitation, hygiene, and protection to over 11 million; health care to close to 13 million people; and education to over 5 million children.
“I urge all donors to fund our appeal fully and commit to disbursing funds quickly. As a matter of moral responsibility, of human decency and compassion, of international solidarity, and of life and death — we must support the people of Yemen now,” he stated.
In a video speech, Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdul-Malik said that his people can “no longer tolerate” the situation following seven years of war, adding that stifling economic and humanitarian crises have closed the “window of hope”.
He added that life-saving UN aid has prevented the country from “slipping into famine,” and that any reductions in funding would increase pressures and challenges facing the Yemeni people.
Abdul-Malik said the UN conference was “a test of humanity, a proof of international solidarity, and a message of reassurance to the Yemeni people that brothers and friends from donor countries, organizations and partners will not let them down.”
He continued: “We are all aware that the solution to the humanitarian crisis lies in stopping the war and moving to a comprehensive political path to peace. The effects of the war ignited by the Houthi militia are catastrophic, on all levels.”
Swiss President Ignazio Cassis announced that his country would contribute $15.8 million to aid in Yemen.
“It is time to redouble our efforts,” he said. “We need to ensure adequate funding for the humanitarian response. We must ensure that our contributions reach those in need as quickly as possible.”
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said her country will raise the amount of pledges from last year, adding that the initial allocation for 2022 will reach more than $35 million.
The United States offered $585 million and the European Union and member states together offered $407.4 million. Britain pledged 88 million pounds ($115 million).
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in this regard that it was “particularly difficult” to support Yemen when “the spotlight moves elsewhere.”
He added that 17 million Yemenis need food assistance, and that figure could rise to 19 million this year.