DUBAI: Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million on Tuesday in humanitarian assistance for Yemen this year during a UN money-raising conference in Geneva.
The UAE also pledged $500 million while Kuwait committed $250 million for Yemen.
Thank you to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia #KSA for this year’s increased pledge of 750 million USD and your continued support to the humanitarian response in #Yemen @KSRelief_EN @ksamissionun pic.twitter.com/yPrsluBVOD
— Mark Lowcock (@UNReliefChief) February 26, 2019
The UN said 40 pledges totaling $2.6 billion were received during the day-long conference, a 30-percent increase from the amount drummed up at a similar conference a year ago.
The United Nations' "Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen" in 2019 seeks $4 billion to reach 15 million people across the country, after raising nearly $2.6 billion last year.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, opening the conference, lamented "an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe" in Yemen, where some 24 million people, or four-fifths of Yemen's total population, require aid and protection.
"Twenty million people cannot reliably feed themselves or their families," he said. "Almost 10 million are just one step away from famine."
Britain promised $264 million, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) $24 million. Malaysia was also pledging $100,000 during the conference.
This is the third pledging conference hosted by the United Nation to help what the organization deemed as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
The pledges came as UN officials said on Tuesday that aid workers regained access to key grain storage silos in Hodeida for the first time in six months.
The Houthis militants fighting the legitimate government had blocked the World Food Program from crossing a front line into the government-controlled area where the silos are located.
WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said some 51,000 metric tons of wheat — enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month — had been in storage at the site when it was rendered inaccessible. He said an assessment is under way to determine the state of the wheat.
*With AP and AFP