Donors Pledge $1.2 Billion in Yemen Aid, Far Short of UN Goal




The United Nations raised $1.2 billion for humanitarian aid to Yemen, but the amount is far below a target of $4.3 billion set by the U.N. to help the war-stricken country.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a global donor conference in Geneva Monday that the United States would give $444 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen this year and urged other donors to step up their contributions.

"The scale of the challenge we face is daunting. But I urge everyone to keep our focus on the people we seek to help," he said.

Blinken said that last year’s funding shortages for Yemen forced U.N. agencies to scale back operations in the country, including food rations.

With this year’s donation, the United States’ total contribution to Yemen since the start of the country’s war is $5.4 billion, according to Blinken.

About two-thirds of Yemen’s population — more than 21 million people — need humanitarian and protection services, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told donors Monday, "The people of Yemen deserve our support. But more than that, they deserve a credible path out of perpetual conflict and a chance to rebuild their communities and country."

Yemen’s conflict, which began in 2014, pits a Saudi-led military coalition against an Iran-aligned rebel Houthi group. The rebel group ousted Yemen’s internationally recognized government from the capital, Sanaa, in 2014 and now controls much of the north of the country.

A U.N.-brokered truce last April has largely stopped the fighting, despite the truce expiring last October without an agreement by the two sides to renew it.

The war has left tens of thousands of people dead and devastated the country’s economy.

The U.N.’s World Food Program feeds 13 million people in Yemen.

The World Health Organization says medical facilities have repeatedly been attacked in Yemen and said the agency needs $392 million this year to ensure health facilities remain functioning, providing basic medical services to the most vulnerable people.

The Norwegian Refugee Council aid group said the donations pledged Monday were inadequate.

"The international community today showed it has abandoned Yemen at this crucial crossroads," said Erin Hutchinson, the group’s Yemen country director.

Globally, the United Nations is seeking a record $51.5 billion for aid this year, and the U.N. acknowledged that crises around the world are straining donors.

"Record global humanitarian needs are stretching donor support like never before, but without sustained support for the aid operation in Yemen, the lives of millions of Yemenis will hang in the balance," the U.N. said in a statement.

Monday’s donor event was co-hosted by Sweden and Switzerland.

Some information in this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.

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