U.N. Donor Conference Pledges $2.6 Billion in Humanitarian Aid to Yemen

A Yemeni man and boy walk carrying bags of food aid provided by a local charity to families affected by the ongoing conflict, in the capital Sanaa on February 14, 2019. (Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

A United Nations donor conference has seen donations to the war-torn country of Yemen reach $2.6 billion in efforts to ease the suffering of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

On Tuesday, the international body held a donor conference in Geneva to help fund their aid efforts in the crisis-stricken country where 24 million people, around 80 percent’s country’s total population, are in need of humanitarian assistance amid a brutal civil war between the Saudi-backed Sunni government and Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.

“Tens of thousands of people have been killed or injured since the conflict escalated, many of them civilians. Many more have died from preventable diseases, exacerbated by malnutrition,” said U.N. Secretary Antonio Guerres. “Twenty million people cannot reliably feed themselves or their families. Almost 10 million are just one step away from famine.”

“Children did not start the war in Yemen, but they are paying the highest price,” he continued. “Some 360,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, fighting for their lives every day. One credible report puts the number of children under five who have died of starvation at more than 80,000.”

Current funding for U.N. support will soon run as aid workers spend heavily on supporting the country’s devastated health care system and support people suffering from the mass unemployment caused by the conflict.

“The donors have pledged 30 percent more than last year to help address the dramatic humanitarian situation in Yemen. From $2 billion in the pledging conference of 2018 to $2.6 billion in the pledging conference of 2019,” Guerres continued.  “Several countries have naturally increased their contributions, but I think it is fair to say that the two most relevant elements in this increase came from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.”

The civil war began back in 2014 when Houthis rebels launched an insurgency by taking the capital of Sanaa and other large provinces, leading to a government retaliation backed by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Last December, the U.N. was involved in brokering a ceasefire between the two sides although it still remains unclear as to whether a comprehensive peace deal can be reached.

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