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UN donor nations pledge $1.35 billion in aid for war-ravaged, Covid-hit Yemen

UN Donor Nations Pledge $1.35 Billion in Aid for Yemen

RIYADH – International donors pledged $1.35 billion in humanitarian aid to Yemen, United Nations Aid Chief Mark Lowcock said at pledging conference to help the devastated country.
UN chief Antonio Guterres sought to raise $2.41 billion on Tuesday to support war-torn and coronavirus hit Yemen at a donor conference hosted by Saudi Arabia during the sixth year of its military intervention.
The virtual conference comes as humanitarian groups warn that the virus could wreak havoc in Yemen after years of conflict and amid crippling funding shortages.
“We are in a race against the clock,” said United Nations Secretary General António Guterres.
“Aid agencies estimate that they will need $2.41 billion to cover essential aid from June to December, including programs to combat COVID-19.”
Without the required funding, more than 30 of the 41 major United Nations programs in Yemen could close in the coming weeks, António Guterres warned.
“Tackling COVID-19 in addition to the current humanitarian emergency requires urgent action,” he added.
Humanitarian crisis
Yemen is already gripped by what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with tens of thousands of dead, around four million people displaced by war and tens of thousands of people suffering from malnutrition and disease.
Saudi Arabia, a key player in the conflict that sees itself as one of Yemen’s major donors, pledged a $500 million aid program at the event.
Britain has intervened with a new aid program to Yemen worth $200 million.
“This targeted British aid program will make the difference between life and death for thousands of Yemenis, who are now also at risk from the coronavirus,” Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said in a statement.
Germany has announced aid of $139.8 million to Yemen.
Lowcock, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said $180 million in funding was needed to fight the rapidly spreading virus.
According to Guterres, in the de facto capital Aden, reports indicated that COVID-19’s death rates were “among the highest in the world”.
As the coronavirus spreads, some 5.5 million people risk losing access to food and drinking water in Yemen this year, said a survey by 24 international aid groups, including Save the Children.
Jens Laerke of the UN has warned that aid agencies are headed for a “fiscal cliff” due to a lack of funding that threatens key United Nations programs.
“Those who have given an indication of their commitments (are urged) to actually pay early because the operation in Yemen is severely, severely underfunded,” said Laerke, spokesperson for the United Nations humanitarian agency.
Senior officials from other United Nations agencies in Yemen have also called for urgent international support.
“We are increasingly alarmed by the situation in Yemen,” said officials from UNICEF, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization in a joint statement.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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