Riyadh, Jun 2 (efe-epa).- The more than 60 countries taking part in Tuesday’s international donor conference for Yemen pledged a little more than $1.3 billion in donations, much less than the $2.4 billion the United Nations says is needed to fund humanitarian efforts in the war-torn nation through the end of 2020.
Yemen, already the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, is now contending with the threat posed by the coronavirus.
The UN and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia jointly hosted the High-Level Pledging Event, which was conducted virtually.
“We have never had so little money for Yemen operations this late in the year,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. “Unless we secure a significant funding, more than 30 out of the 41 major UN programs in Yemen will close in the next few weeks.”
Only half of the $2.6 billion pledged last year for Yemen materialized, according to Mark Lowcock, the coordinator of UN humanitarian operations, who said that only $500 million has been received so far in 2020.
“Pledges will not save lives unless they are paid,” he said.
Saudi Arabia said that it will provide $500 million, including $300 million in funding for UN agencies on the ground in Yemen.
The remaining $200 million will go to the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, which is affiliated with the Saudi government.
The center’s supervisor general, Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, said that the donations pledged on Tuesday demonstrated the international community’s continuing commitment to Yemen.
Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan said that the Kingdom had provided $16 billion to Yemen since late 2014, when Houthi rebels rose up against the country’s internationally recognized president, Abdo Rabu Mansur Hadi.
In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in a bid to restore Hadi to power, igniting a conflict that has led to more than 100,000 fatalities, many of them children who perished due to hunger and disease.
Representing the United States at the conference was Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker, who said that Washington – the chief provider of arms ordnance to Saudi Arabia – expected to announce Covid-19 aid for Yemen in the coming weeks.
The United Kingdom’s top diplomat for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, said that his government, will supply 160 million pounds ($200.8 million) for humanitarian programs in Yemen.
German Minister of State Niels Annen announced 125 million euros ($139.6 million) to help mitigate “one of the biggest and most serious man-made humanitarian crises.”
Delegates from other European countries, including Norway and Sweden, promised funds while also calling for a cease-fire in Yemen as a first step toward a negotiated solution.
That appeal was endorsed by officials from Russia, China and Canada.
Saudi Arabia was the only Arab nation to pledge aid. EFE