Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced a $930 million donation to the United Nations humanitarian efforts in Yemen as the war between the Saudi-led Sunni coalition and Shiite Iran-allied Houthi militants continues to rage.
Human rights groups like Amnesty International have accused the U.S.-assisted Saudi-led coalition of deepening the humanitarian crisis plaguing the Arab world’s most impoverished country by imposing a sea and air blockade that curtails the movement of people and goods and contributes to the pervasive food insecurity.
The coalition argues that the blockades are intended to enforce the U.N.-sanctioned arms embargo on the Houthis and their allies, who get weapons from Saudi Arabia’s regional nemesis Iran.
Yemen’s forgotten war entered its fourth year as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) presented the previously pledged funds to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Guterres thanked Saudi Arabia for the donation, which reportedly covers about a third of the total the United Nations is seeking of Yemen humanitarian assistance this year.
“On the other hand, we know that there is no humanitarian solution for humanitarian problems,” Guterres declared, the Associated Press (AP) reports. “The solution is political, and we are entirely at your disposal to work together to find a political solution when that becomes possible.”
Citing the U.N., AP notes that Guterres and the crown prince discussed protecting civilians and lifting the blockades to allow humanitarian aid to flow through.
Amnesty International has also accused the Saudi-led coalition of bombing civilian infrastructure and conducting indiscriminate attacks, killing and wounding civilians.
The meeting between the U.N. chief and the Saudi leader was “very productive and comprehensive,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir reportedly said.
Referring to the foreign minister, AP notes:
He said the two talked about avoiding foreign intervention in Yemen, particularly from Iran. Western countries and UN researchers have accused Iran of supplying arms to the Yemeni militants, known as Al Houthis. There is a growing body of evidence to support the claim.
The Saudi-led alliance has been fighting the Houthis and their allies to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to power since March 25, 2015.
According to the U.N., Yemen is currently gripped by stalemated war and what the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 22 million people needing assistance.
The nearly $1 billion in much-needed humanitarian assistance to Yemen comes soon after U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis urged Saudi Arabia to “accelerate” the peace process in Yemen.
U.S. lawmakers have blasted the U.S.-assisted coalition led by Saudi Arabia for its contribution to the mounting death toll, threatening to pull to plug on American support.
“We are going to end this war, that is the bottom line,” Mattis said before meeting the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) last week. “And we are going to end it on positive terms for the people of Yemen but also security for the nations in the peninsula.”
AP reports that the ongoing conflict has killed an estimated 10,000 people.