The United Nations warns of a catastrophe in Yemen if the $4.3 billion funding gap is not closed
Organizers of the United Nations pledging conference said on Wednesday that Yemen should not become a forgotten crisis behind Ukraine, warning of a catastrophic hunger if donations are not available.
They warned that the United Nations considers war-torn Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian disaster – but money to prevent the situation from deteriorating is now running out.
“Today we come together to fill a huge gap in funding for the life-saving response,” Martin Griffiths, the UN humanitarian coordinator, told reporters.
“The war is in its seventh year and it is still going on. The economy is in ruins. Basic services are collapsing,” he added.
“This year’s response requires nearly $4.3 billion to assist more than 17 million people across Yemen.”
With funding depleted since late last year, he said, aid agencies have been forced to scale back or stop food and health services.
“Today we hope to raise funds to replenish food supplies, stock health clinics and provide shelter for the displaced.
“And to send a message to the Yemeni people that we don’t forget them,” Griffiths said.
The British diplomat said the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began last month, would have far-reaching secondary effects.
It would “certainly harm the lives of many Yemenis,” he said, given that the country is almost entirely dependent on food imports, with nearly a third of its wheat supply coming from Ukraine.
Of the 31.9 million people in Yemen, 23.4 million are in need of humanitarian assistance, of whom 12.9 million are in dire need, according to the United Nations.
Yemen has been witnessing a devastating war since 2014, between the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels against the internationally recognized government, with the support of a Saudi-led military coalition.
Hundreds of thousands of people were killed directly and indirectly in the war, and millions were displaced.
swing over the edge
The World Food Program has said hunger levels could become catastrophic if the Ukraine crisis drives up food prices.
The United Nations humanitarian agency, Switzerland and Sweden will host the pledge event on Wednesday.
“Since Ukraine of course keeps us very busy and is a huge concern, it is critical that no other crisis turns into a forgotten one,” said Manuel Besler, Switzerland’s humanitarian aid official.
The Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a joint statement that the humanitarian situation is deteriorating between June and December.
The three UN agencies warned that “the already severe hunger crisis in Yemen is teetering on the brink of outright catastrophe, with 17.4 million people now in need of food aid and a growing proportion of the population dealing with emergency levels of hunger.”
The World Food Program said the number of people needing food aid increased by 1.2 million over the past year – and is expected to reach 19 million in the second half of 2022.
“We’re looking at a seismic hunger crisis if we don’t step up now,” said David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme.
“Funding for Yemen has never reached this point. We have no choice but to take food from the hungry to feed the hungry.”
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