At the fundraiser for humanitarian aid for war-torn Yemen on Tuesday, donors have pledged $1.2 billion, which is $1 billion short from what the United Nations had expected to raise. These funds were required to stop reducing or shutting the UN aid programs in Yemen.
Mark Lowcock, Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that without the required money, the region faces a horrific outcome. The five years of civil war has triggered the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, with nearly 24 million people in need of lifesaving aid.
Yemen is also now struggling to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed thousands of people and is spreading across the world. The UN has warned that the coronavirus will spread faster, wider, and with deadlier consequences.
- Yemen: UN Warns of New Humanitarian Crisis Amid COVID-19 Fears
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The health authorities have so far recorded 403 confirmed cases of coronavirus with nearly 84 recorded fatalities. However, experts have maintained that the actual number of fatalities and confirmed cases could be much higher because of a lack of testing facilities.
In Tuesday’s high-level pledging conference, 130 governments and many aid agencies participated. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres opened the summit; he warned the world that the pandemic outbreak posed a threat to the most vulnerable people across the globe.
Recent reports also suggest that Aden has the world’s highest mortality rate, many health experts, along with the UN, has urged the world to act right now to save peoples’ lives.
Yemen’s beleaguered health care system is hardly operational. It faces severe shortages of testing kits, oxygen, ventilators, ambulances, and necessary protective equipment. Many health workers have reportedly contracted the virus, and more than 50 percent of the population does not have access to clean water to wash their hands.
Guterres added that the international body, along with its partners, is supporting the rapid response team across the country, working on getting information out, and procuring essential supplies. But he highlighted that more money is needed to keep the programs running.
BBC reported that all the donors at the fundraiser were told that the UN needed up to $2.41 billion to cover all the essential aid programs until December and that in the next few weeks, 30 to 41 aid programs would have to close because of insufficient funding.
Saudi Arabia, a key player in the war of Yemen, has pledged $500 million. Political experts have asserted that the Kingdom aims to repair its international image and present itself as the legitimate backer of the government, not as a party in the conflict.
The UK and the US, both the biggest arms supplier of Saudi Arabia, also pledged 160 million pounds and $225 million, respectively. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates, another key player in the conflict, offered no funding to the UN.
Already, food ration for 8.4 million people has been halved, and the UN has had to suspend the payments of 100,000 front line health care workers.