Published: Wed, April 26, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

UN Appeals for $2.1 Billion to Avoid Starvation in Yemen

THE United Nations secretary-general says that worldwide donors at a Geneva aid conference have pledged US$1.1 billion to help beleaguered, war-torn Yemen this year.

Guterres and top government officials from Switzerland and Sweden co-hosted a pledging conference in the Swiss city aimed at collecting at least $2.1 billion in a United Nations relief appeal that was launched this year.

Almost 19 million people - two thirds of the population - are in need of some kind of humanitarian assistance.

"There is no single country in the world where, today, children are suffering more than in Yemen", UNICEF's director for Mideast and North Africa, Geert Cappelaere, told AP. The injured and patients suffering from chronic diseases are dying avoidable deaths, while the most vulnerable groups-children, pregnant women, and the elderly-are at heightened risk of disease.

"The situation is nothing short of catastrophic".

As far as why the strife in Yemen gets so much less worldwide attention than say, a country such as Syria, Kendall said, the reasons are many.

Advocacy groups have taken issue with governments like the United States and Britain - major contributors at Tuesday's conference - which at the same time have authorised high-tech weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and other regional powers involved in the fight.

"War has devastated the economy, destroyed health services, and forced three million people from their homes - leaving many unable to earn a living or grow crops".

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"We are witnessing the starving and the crippling of an entire generation", he added. "Without putting an end to the war, ending the Saudi-led coalition's blockade and corruption of factions in the ground, I'm afraid there will be many more aid conferences to come and no supply will ever be enough to meet demand", he said.

Mutasim Hamdan, Yemen Country Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said:"The pledges made today mean the difference between life and death for millions of people".

The appeal for $2.1 billion is 15 percent funded, the United Nations said.

Elisabeth Kendall, a senior research fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Oxford University, said that the north of Yemen is now the most at-risk of starvation - though there are serious food shortages virtually everywhere in the country except its far east.

The deputy foreign minister expressed concern that the UN Security Council's failure to resolve the crisis in Syria might be replayed in Yemen.

MSF, which supports 12 hospitals across Yemen, uses Hodeidah and other ports to bring in medical supplies but has begun airlifting goods to Aden, Hodeidah and Sanaa, Ventura said.

"The likelihood of a major operation in Hodeidah" should once again urge the worldwide community to stop sending arms to warring parties in Yemen, Amnesty said. "Worldwide backers need to stop fuelling the conflict, make it clear that starvation is not an acceptable weapon of war and exert real pressure on both sides to restart peace talks".

"A clear humanitarian voice saying "enough is enough". "We need an immediate cessation of hostilities and a return to negotiations and peace", he said.

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