NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia, the US, the EU and other nations announced hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of additional humanitarian and development aid for Yemen at a high-level meeting at the UN on Wednesday.
Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah, supervisor-general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, announced that Saudi Arabia will provide an additional $90 million in humanitarian aid for war-torn Yemen.
“Over the last six years, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has provided more than $18 billion to support Yemen,” he said. “This year alone, Saudi Arabia has supported Yemen with more than $848 million.”
The latest pledge means Saudi Arabia is once again the largest donor of aid to Yemen. But “monetary donations alone won’t alleviate the crisis in Yemen,” Al-Rabeeah warned.
“Unless we work together to end the conflict and minimize the obstructions of aid delivery, the situation will continue to worsen,” he added.
“Ongoing aggression by the Houthi militias against the UN and international NGOs only adds more misery to the Yemeni people.”
Al-Rabeeah expressed the Kingdom’s desire that the international community support its political plan “to put an end to the conflict and bring long-lasting peace to all Yemenis.”
The US promised an additional $290 million in donations for 2021, while the EU announced that it will donate a further €119 million ($139.65 million), which the bloc’s Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said is a “joint humanitarian and development aid pledge.”
She added that “in the immediate term, our support will help families access food and basic commodities,” and that “in the long term, the EU seeks to help Yemen build a bridge from crisis to recover.” In this, she said, “investing in youth and women will play a critical role.”
Canada, Qatar, Sweden and Brazil together pledged additional donations worth over $120 million, some of which will be provided to UN bodies such as the World Food Programme to assist their operations in Yemen.
In total, around $600 million in additional humanitarian funding was announced at the UN meeting.
That money will be used to ensure that food security, sanitation, healthcare and education continues to be delivered to as many Yemenis as possible.
But while the aid provided by the international community will alleviate some of the hardship facing the country’s 29 million people, world leaders repeatedly made clear that a political solution to the conflict is the only way to truly end the humanitarian crisis.
Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East, and it was plunged into civil war when the Iran-backed Houthis overthrew the UN-recognized government in 2015. Since then, famine and conflict have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.
Yemen’s Minister of Foreign and Expatriate Affairs Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak warned on Wednesday that “despite the generous contributions of the international community, including the UN-led Humanitarian Response Plan, the humanitarian crisis witnessed by Yemen is still the largest and most urgent in the world.”
He blamed the Houthis for Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, citing their assault on the city of Marib as an example of how they perpetuate the suffering of Yemenis — in this case by preventing the supply of household fuel to people across the country.
“Marib is the main source of household gas in Yemen … The continued brutal attacks by the Houthi militias on Marib exacerbate human suffering,” Bin Mubarak said.
He warned that a continuation of the Marib offensive could force thousands of internally displaced Yemenis who had sought safety in the city to seek refuge overseas.
“All humanitarian efforts provided by the different (UN) agencies won’t end the suffering of the Yemenis unless this war stops,” he said.
“Therefore, I’d like to call upon the international community to exert more effort on the Houthi militias and their supporters to give up the option of war and engage in a peace process that’s led by the UN.”